Document Type


Media Type



When a passenger on a commercial air carrier is injured as a result of an encounter with turbulence, the traditional negligence analysis applies to determine whether the airline is liable for the passenger's damages. As a common carrier, the airline owes its passengers the "highest duty of care." This Comment discusses whether the time has come to change the analysis in airline turbulence injuries to one of res ipsa loquitor--that the injury speaks for itself and would not occur without negligence by another. A review is made of the significant advances in weather forecasting, turbulence prediction, turbulence detection, and airline operating practices, which give an airline a much better ability to protect passengers from injury due to turbulence. Several cases are analyzed hypothetically under a res ipsa loquitor theory of negligence in light of technological advancements. Ultimately, the Comment concludes that even though airlines are in a much better position to protect passengers from turbulence injuries, turbulence is still too uncertain a phenomenon to be able to detect with absolute accuracy. Because of the unpredictable nature of turbulence, it is not possible at this time to say that turbulence injuries are of the kind that only occurs in the existence of negligence by another.

First Page


Last Page


Publication Date



College of Law






Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

Andrew R. Loeffler, Comment, It Is Now Safe to Move About the Cabin: Revisiting Air Carrier Liability for Passenger Injuries Due to Turbulence Using a Res Ipsa Loquitur Theory of Negligence, 30 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 445 (2010).

Included in

Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.