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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently highlighted the increase in severe turbulence on commercial airline flights, attributing it to climate change. He stated that this rise in turbulence will necessitate a reevaluation of protocols for handling severe weather events and emphasized the importance of bolstering domestic infrastructure in the United States. Buttigieg pointed out that the effects of climate change are already evident in transportation, citing examples such as heat waves threatening transit systems in the Pacific Northwest and a reported 15% increase in turbulence.

A 2019 study in Nature noted a 15% spike in vertical shear in jet streams since the late 1970s, further supporting Buttigieg’s assertion of increased turbulence. The discussion of climate change’s impact on air travel was prompted by a recent incident involving severe turbulence on a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore, resulting in injuries to over 30 passengers and a suspected heart attack-related death of a British man. While Buttigieg acknowledged such extreme occurrences are rare, he stressed the importance of proactive measures to ensure aviation safety and warned against complacency in the face of challenges.

Since assuming his role as Transportation Secretary, Buttigieg has made combatting climate change a key focus. However, he has also been confronted with various transportation challenges, including worker shortages and controversies within the aviation industry. Addressing Boeing specifically, Buttigieg referenced an increase in reports of safety concerns from employees, signaling potential issues that need to be addressed. He emphasized the importance of fostering a culture of accountability and transparency within the aviation sector to ensure the safety of air travel.

The uptick in safety concerns reported by Boeing employees has raised concerns about the company’s practices and potential underlying issues. Buttigieg hinted at the possibility of more significant problems within Boeing, while also acknowledging the need for further investigation before making any definitive accusations. The Transportation Secretary highlighted the need for substantive changes within Boeing and the aviation industry as a whole to ensure the safety of passengers and maintain the integrity of air travel systems.

Buttigieg referenced ongoing efforts to hold Boeing accountable for addressing quality issues within its manufacturing processes, including a demand from the FAA for a comprehensive plan of action to improve safety practices. The deadline for Boeing to submit this plan is approaching, and Buttigieg emphasized the necessity of significant changes to enhance safety and restore confidence in the company’s operations. He stressed the importance of continuous vigilance and transparency in addressing safety concerns within the aviation industry to prevent future incidents and maintain public trust in air travel.

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