20 people were injured on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu
Dozens of people were injured when a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu encountered severe turbulence on Sunday, officials said.
A total of 36 people required medical attention and 11 were in serious condition after a shaky flight shook the cabin and visibly damaged the plane’s interior, according to the Honolulu Emergency Medical Services director.
Patients suffered cuts, bumps and bruises, including head injuries, while some experienced nausea and vomiting due to the bumpy flight.
At least one person lost consciousness, medical director Jim Ireland said.
Three flight attendants were among the injured who were taken to hospitals. On board were 10 crew members and a full cabin with 278 passengers.
Hawaiian Airlines COO Jon Snook said the extreme turbulence was an isolated anomaly.
The airline “has not experienced an incident of this nature in recent history,” he said.
“We are also very fortunate and feel fortunate that there have been no fatalities or other serious injuries. And we are also very confident that everyone is recovering and will make a full recovery,” Ireland said.
The seat belt sign was on at the time, but not every passenger had their seat belt buckled.
One passenger, Kaylee Reyes, who flew with her mother, said her mother had just sat up after using the toilet and had no chance to buckle her seat belt when the turbulence hit.
“She flew up and hit the ceiling,” Reyes told Hawaii News Now.
A thunderstorm warning was in effect for areas like Oahu and the plane’s flight path at the time of the turbulence, according to Thomas Vaughan, a weather forecaster at the National Weather Service outpost in Honolulu.
Snook said the airline was aware of the recommendation, but the air patch where the flight became bumpy showed no warnings of any danger.
The phenomenon may have been a case of “clear air turbulence,” which occurs in cirrus clouds, or sometimes clear air, near thunderstorms rather than in the storms themselves makes air the most dangerous type of turbulence.
Pilots can fly straight into clear air turbulence without warning.
The plane began descending immediately after the turbulence, and the crew declared an emergency and alerted people on the ground that they had a number of injuries on board. Air traffic controllers then cleared the way for the plane and gave it priority for landing.
It’s unclear how much altitude the plane, an Airbus A330-200, lost during the turbulence, but the National Transportation Safety Board would look into that and more in an investigation into the incident, Snook said.
The aircraft’s flight data recorder could provide these details and more. The board will also investigate what passengers and crew were doing at the time of the incident – including the measures taken to ensure passengers were wearing their seat belts.
“If you don’t have your seatbelt on, you stay where you are while the plane goes down, and that’s how…injury happens,” Snook said.
With mail wires.