AN Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 was forced to return to Perth after it encountered severe turbulence off Geraldton.
Flight EY487 the non-stop service to Abu Dhabi took off at 5.15pm and climbed to about 8534mts off Cervantes when it started to encounter turbulence.
The crew requested a lower altitude and were cleared to 6096mts.
However, the turbulence became worse and off the coast from Geraldton the plane encountered severe turbulence and the crew elected to return to Perth.
Fire engines were in attendance when the 787 retuned after dumping fuel and it landed safely at 6.42pm.
Etihad Airways confirmed the incident Thursday night.
“Etihad Airways flight EY487, operating from Perth to Abu Dhabi today, 7 September 2017, has returned to Perth Airport having experienced severe turbulence an hour into its journey.
“No passengers were hurt during the turbulence event, however as a precaution, the aircraft is being inspected by engineers, the airline said.
It added that “affected guests are being assisted with hotel accommodation and alternative travel arrangements.”
“The safety and wellbeing of crew and passengers is Etihad Airways’ number one priority.”
It is expected the aircraft will fly out today to Abu Dhabi.
According to a former crash investigator, the turbulence must have been very severe for the pilots to turn back to Perth.
With climate change, turbulence encounters are becoming more frequent and more severe.
A study by University of Reading researcher Dr Paul Williams has warned that turbulence could triple.
Although technology that allows aircraft to detect unexpected turbulence has improved, clear air turbulence remains difficult to distinguish and there are still incidents where passengers and cabin crew are injured.
The study, published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, used super computer simulations to look at how a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would affect wintertime turbulence levels on trans-Atlantic routes at about 11,000mts.
The results showed the average amount of light turbulence in the atmosphere will increase by 59 per cent with light-to-moderate turbulence rising by 75 per cent, moderate by 94 per cent, moderate-to-severe by 127 per cent and severe by 149 per cent.
The reason for this, according to the study, is that climate change is generating stronger wind shears within the jet stream and that these are a major cause of turbulence.
“Our new study paints the most detailed picture yet of how aircraft turbulence will respond to climate change,’’ Williams said.