Monday, June 22, 2009

Several injured during Qantas Airbus A330-300 severe turbulence incident

Qantas A330-300A number of people on a Qantas flight were injured last night during what has been described as severe turbulence. The Airbus A330-300 aircraft, operating as Qantas Flight QF 68, was en route from Hong Kong to Perth. At the time of the incident, which happened about four hours after departure from Hong Kong, the aircraft was in cruise at 38,000 feet over Borneo.

There were 13 crew members and 206 passengers on board Flight QF 68. Following the incident, the aircraft continued on to Perth, where it landed safely.

Qantas has issued a statement about the incident, saying that the injured included six passengers and one cabin crew member. According to the airline, the seven inured were taken to hospitals after the aircraft landed in Perth, and have since been released.

News reports about the incident, quoting passengers, said the aircraft dropped suddenly causing those who were not restrained to be thrown from their seats. Some passengers reportedly hit their heads on overhead compartments with enough force to crack the plastic. News media described back and neck injuries, and indicated that some of the injured were children.

Mr. David Epstein, speaking to the press on behalf of Qantas, said:
"The aircraft most likely encountered what is known as convective turbulence, which led to it rapidly gaining around 800 feet in altitude before returning to its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet.

"This convective turbulence is not normally visible to weather radar. At top of descent into Perth, the Captain explained this to passengers and also referred to the radar being designed to detect moisture but not ice crystals.

"The flight crew responded quickly to this incident in line with procedure and based on their regular simulator training.

"Some media reports have suggested the aircraft was travelling through thunderstorms at the time of the incident. There may have been thunderstorms in the vicinity, but there is nothing to suggest the aircraft was actually flying through any storm activity."
The incident has been reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

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