Why Your Airplane’s Wings Will Never Snap Off — Even in Extreme Turbulence (Video)

More than 100 years after the first human flight, airplanes remain a mechanical marvel that very few of us actually understand.

And while it’s not necessary to understand the airplane in order to enjoy its benefits, this lack of knowledge can cause irrational fears for some nervous flyers.

For example, during turbulence, the wings may appear to shake outside the window. In a particularly turbulent storm, some may imagine that the wings bend so much, they could snap off. However that scenario is almost impossible.

The entire aircraft is basically designed to allow the wings to bend in turbulence without compromising any structural integrity.

Airplane wings are made out of aluminum — although not the same aluminium in cans and tin foil. It’s aerospace grade stuff, an alloy with strength comparable to steel.

In addition to the wings being constructed from high-power materials, there’s a hidden support system within each wing.

Running inside the length of the wings are two “spars,” metal beams that support the wings’ loads and make it harder for them to bend. The spars run all the way through the wings, connecting in a “wing box” on the bottom of the fuselage, ensuring that the wings cannot snap off.

The only possible way for an airplane wing to snap off would be “bad maintenance,” Rainer Groh, the writer behind the Aerospace Engineering Blog, told Fear of Flying School.

However, bad maintenance is extremely rare — each aircraft undergoes rigorous testing and tune-ups to ensure that planes don’t fly with even the smallest, most invisible of cracks.

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