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Four ways to help pilots avoid turbulence

The emergency landing of Continental Flight 128 in Miami Monday adds urgency to ongoing efforts to better predict turbulence.

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In a Jan. 30 file photo, Continental Airlines jets are parked at the terminal at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Robert Graves/AP/File

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The Continental flight that made an emergency landing in Miami Monday morning points to a nagging problem: How can commercial airlines and air-traffic controllers alike do a better job of helping planes avoid in-flight turbulence?

At about 4:30 a.m., a Continental Airlines Boeing 767 bound for Houston from Brazil hit a turbulent pocket of air in the skies between Grand Turk Island and Puerto Rico. Emergency responders at Miami International Airport said 26 of the 179 people on board were injured, four seriously.

This comes less than two months after Air France Flight 447 flew through areas of severe turbulence shortly before it crashed.

The two incidents are adding urgency to research aimed at developing new tools for predicting where turbulence is likely to hit.

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