“Pilots use preflight weather briefings to detect turbulence along their route of flight. Once airborne, pilots will receive 'ride reports' from other aircrew who encountered rough air, so they have time to coordinate a path around the turbulence,” he explains.
Yes, weather radar can help predict convective turbulence and clear air turbulence. Most commercial aircraft now pack weather radar – from the Airbus A321 to the Boeing 777.
Clear-air turbulence is usually impossible to detect with the naked eye and very difficult to detect with a conventional radar, with the result that it is difficult for aircraft pilots to detect and avoid it.
In short, pilots are not worried about turbulence – avoiding it is for convenience and comfort rather than safety. In the best circumstances, pilots can forecast where turbulence is and steer clear of it.
Turbulence can feel unpleasant and feel a bit like a bumpy rollercoaster ride. However, it is rarely something to be concerned about. Passengers may get nervous and panic, but the aircraft will not fall out of the sky. Aircraft are designed to withstand turbulence, and pilots and cabin crew are trained to deal with it.
Pilots are capable of identifying areas of potential turbulence by using their knowledge of meteorology and weather patterns. One of the simplest ways we avoid turbulence is by avoiding areas with thunderstorms. Convective activity is associated with unstable air, as well as strong updrafts and downdrafts.
From a practical point, no, a modern airliner will not lose a wing due to turbulence. Modern airlines are very tough and designed to withstand extreme turbulence. In theory, it might be possible. But to my knowledge, it has not happened to any jet airliner.
Pilots know that flying safely in threatening turbulence requires slowing to VA, the maneuvering speed. This assures that the airplane will stall before its limit load factor can be exceeded. Such a stall is momentary and protects the structure against damaging loads.