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Is there a best place to sit in an aircraft to reduce the turbulence feel ?

I have travelled in A380 which has minimum turbulence experience because of huge body. But what is the best seat to minimise it in general any aircraft ?

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    I've heard "over the wings" and "near the front", but this seems to be a question for which there are a lot of theories and anecdotes and little actual data. – Nate Eldredge May 1 at 20:25
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    This is only a guess so won't put it down as an answer, but I would suggest that since the fuselage is basically a very rigid aluminum tube, that turbulence will pretty much be similar wherever you sit. There might be a slight bit more at the far front and back if the airframe flexes slightly, but I would guess for all intents and purposes for that to be not a significant difference. Assuming the source of the turbulence is only from the wings, sitting directly over the wings might be slightly less turbulent, but probably not anything significantly less than anywhere else. – Milwrdfan May 1 at 20:49
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    @Moo can you substantiate that? Given that there are so many different types of turbulence which happen (possibly) at different rates, it seems unlikely each seat in the plane ends up having the same experience on average. If you could substantiate that claim, it would sure make a very interesting answer. – JJJ May 1 at 22:08
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    @Moo yet you say that 'such a thing doesn't exist'. Based on the rest of your reasoning (that there are many things that affect turbulence) such a thing might exist. Specifically, if we can define some measure of turbulence in different parts of the plane, combine that with data from many flights (or determine otherwise, perhaps using simulation) then we could average that out (based on LLN) and say something we can substantiate. – JJJ May 1 at 22:32
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    @Moo again, are you basing that on anything or do you just make it up on the go? There's actually a lot of research into this. For example, Cabin attendants’ exposure to vibration and shocks during landing by Burström et al. concludes (behind a paywall): "The results also very clearly show that the exposure to vibration is higher on the rear crew seat compared to the front seat. For instance, both the VDV and the frequency-weighted acceleration in the dominant direction are more then 50% higher on the rear seat." – JJJ May 1 at 23:21
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In theory, the closer you are to the plane's center of mass (or center of gravity), the less movement you will experience overall; this the fulcrum, or pivot point, around which the aircraft rotates. In passenger aircraft, this will lie somewhere near the front of the wings, but it is impossible to speak of any "best" seat for any aircraft. At the least, the center of mass shifts during flight as fuel is consumed and as flaps are extended or retracted, and you never know when the plane will encounter turbulence.

(Conventional wisdom similarly predicts the aft of the plane will see the most movement. It is typically farther from the center of gravity than the nose is, especially where passenger seats are concerned, and it is also where the tail is attached, which is buffeted as it keeps the plane on course.)

As Moo notes in a comment, however, what you experience in flight depends on the kind of turbulence you encounter. "Turbulence" simply means irregular air movement, which comes in pockets of mostly unpredictable size, strength, and direction. Turbulence that is strong enough to shake the plane is going to shake the entire plane. Picking a different seat isn't going to help if the plane suddenly drops 10 feet. Even in less extreme situations, it isn't as if the front of the plane will be motionless while the rear is bumpy; that would defy engineering and common sense.

As Patrick Smith of the "Ask the Pilot" column writes,

“Is it better to fly at night than during the day?” Sometimes.

“Should I avoid routes that traverse the Rockies or the Alps?” Hard to say.

“Are small planes more susceptible than larger ones?” It depends.

“They’re calling for gusty winds tomorrow. Will it be rough?” Probably, but who knows.

He agrees that sitting near the wings will afford a smoother ride, and movement is worst in the rear, but overall,

it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.

  • You also have to consider that if the engines are rear-mounted like a CRJ or a MD-80, the front of the plane is much further away from the center of gravity than the back. It's noticeable to both passengers and pilots. – user71659 May 2 at 0:04
  • "it is impossible to speak of any "best" seat for any aircraft" Don't helicopters get designed so that their seats are located over the points where the resonant frequencies of their vibrations get cancelled out? – nick012000 May 2 at 5:52
  • Centre of gravity shouldn't shift too much as fuel is burnt: there is a lot of fuel on a large plane (a 777 can carry up to 145 tonnes, depending on the model) and it's very carefully managed to avoid significant CoG changes as it burns. For example, most of the fuel tanks are in the wings, which are around the CoG fore-and-aft, and transfer pumps ensure that the two wings have the same amount of fuel to avoid lateral imbalance. – David Richerby Jun 28 at 10:08

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