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Past Jet Airliner Turbulence Injury Mishaps

The following are recent jet airliner mishaps from around the world. In each event, at least one passenger/flight attendant was injured during an unexpected turbulence encounter. These events include scheduled airline flights.

Clear Air Turbulence

Once again, turbulence strikes and this time, it is clear air turbulence (CAT) that is to blame. This form of turbulence has been rated as one of the most serious, causing the most injuries, principally because it can not always be foreseen and so the cabin is given no warning. Other problems arise because turbulence is usually felt at its mildest in the flight deck whereas it is almost more severe in the aft section of the airplane and so what the captain might warn as of as "moderate" may turn out, without warnign as severe. There are countless reports of cabin attendants and passengers alike who were moving about the passenger cabin or carring out thier assigned duties when CAT is encountered and many serious injuries have occurred. As a passenger, when you are in your seat keep your seat belt fastened at all times.

    November 19, 1996 - United Airlines - 737-500 - 1 Flight Attendant injured
    During cruise the airplane encountered turbulence, the captain illuminated the seatbelt sign and instructed the flight attendants be seated. As one of the aft flight attendants was in the process of securing some equipment she sustained her injury. After landing she was taken to a hospital where it was determined that her foot was broken.

    August 29, 1996 - USAir - 737-300 - 4 passengers injured, 3 serious, 1 minor
    During cruise at 35,000 feet the airplane encountered severe turbulence for about 11 seconds in visual conditions with the seatbelt signs off. Three passengers sustained serious injuries and one passenger sustained minor injuries, and the airplane sustained some minor damage. The flight diverted to Chattanooga to care for the injured passengers.

    July 13, 1996 - American Airlines - MD-11 - 4 injuries, 1 serious, 3 minor
    During descent from 35,000 feet to 24,000 feet with the autopilot engaged, and the first officer performing the flying pilot duties. The speed brakes had been extended full, and as the airplane neared 25,000 feet the captain became concerned that the airplane would not stop descending at 24,000 feet. He instructed the first officer to to slow the rate of descent. The first officer used the pitch trim wheel on the autopilot with no effect. The captain then took control of the airplane, retracted the speed brakes, and a few seconds later, disconnected the autopilot. The airplane immediatly pitched up. The captain flew the airplane back to 24,000 feet. During the pitch up one passenger received serious injuries, and one passenger and two flight attendants sustained minor injuries. All the injured occupants were located in the ft section of the airplane.






All information contained on these pages are public data sources, and can be obtained from FAA, NTSB, ASRS, and news papers...


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Revised: 01 June 1999
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