Turbulence hit as passengers ate their in-flight meals.
Passengers on board a Lufthansa flight from Austin to Frankfurt suffered a major scare after the plane experienced severe turbulence. Seven passengers were taken to hospital after the flight made an emergency landing in Washington DC
Severe turbulence on a Lufthansa flight
On Wednesday, March 1, flight LH469 departed Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) at 5:08 p.m. local time bound for Frankfurt Airport (FRA) before encountering turbulence over Tennessee/Virginia western. The plane, an Airbus A330-300 (registration: D-AIKK), went through an “unforeseen” storm, causing many passengers to be injured. FlightAware data shows the plane descended from 37,000 feet to 24,000 feet and remained at that altitude while diverting to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), where it landed safely at 9:10 p.m. local hour.
As The Washington Post reported, passengers were enjoying their in-flight meals when turbulence hit, sending meals, cutlery and other detritus flying around the cabin. Some passengers who were not wearing seatbelts reportedly hit the cabin roof, while the turbulence continued for several minutes before leveling off.
Lufthansa said in a statement that the flight “encountered brief but severe turbulence about 90 minutes after takeoff“, the pilots deciding to do”an unscheduled landing at Washington Dulles International Airport as a precaution.”
Seven go to the hospital
While it is not uncommon for one or two people to escape a wayward bag during turbulence, the fact that seven people had to be taken to hospital shows the seriousness of this incident. Footage on social media shows dozens of trays of food and cutlery strewn across the floor, while another passenger reported there was ‘broken glass’ everywhere which would explain why several passengers had injuries severe enough to require hospital treatment.
A passenger told the Washington Post that “the food flew through the air, hitting and even damaging the plane’s ceiling“, adding that the person sitting in front of them was bleeding profusely and had to be taken off the plane in a wheelchair.
The FAA is investigating
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will investigate the incident and likely look into why the flight ended up directly in a severe storm. The agency, along with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), has been pushing for increased sharing of turbulence observations and modernization of the pilot reporting system.
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | single flight
Readers of Simple Flying may recall the incident aboard a Hawaiian Airlines flight in December, which saw 36 passengers injured after a bout of severe turbulence. On this occasion, about 20 passengers made the trip to the hospital after he arrived safely in Honolulu.
Were you on board Lufthansa flight LH469 from Austin to Frankfurt on March 1? Have you ever been involved in a serious turbulence incident? Let us know in the comments.
Source: Washington Post, FlightAware