Seven passengers who were injured after severe turbulence during a flight were hospitalized, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. On Wednesday evening, Flight 469 from Austin, Texas made an unexpected yet safe landing at the airport in Virginia. Michael Cabbage of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority told ABC News that it was meant to be headed for Frankfurt Germany.
The airliner, after a turbulent and tumultuous descent, eventually touched down at Dulles International Airport just before 9:10 p.m., fortunately with no serious repercussions. According to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration, an Airbus A330 experienced serious turbulence at 37,000 feet (11,300 meters) in the air over Tennessee.
An investigation is underway as seven people were admitted to hospital for various injuries. However information on their condition has yet to be released by the FAA. According to Susan Zimmerman, a resident of Austin, Texas, one of the pilots informed passengers that the plane had dropped approximately 1,000 feet (around 305 meters) due to unexpected turbulence.
“It felt like the bottom just dropped out from underneath,” she told ABC News. “Everything was floating up. For a moment, you are weightless.” Midway through the meal service, turbulence shook the cabin as passengers and crew moved about. Fortunately for Zimmerman–who is five months pregnant–, she had her seatbelt on. Neither she nor her unborn baby suffered any harm. “I’m pretty sure she slept through it,” she quipped. “She’s surrounded in amniotic fluid.”
Though the severe turbulence grounded the flight, travelers were rebooked quickly
In the interest of safety, Lufthansa decided to make an unplanned landing due to a short but tumultuous episode of clear-air turbulence. This was approximately 90 minutes after takeoff. The airline noted that all 172 passengers received medical attention. Their ground staff was doing everything in its power to rebook travelers as quickly as possible. “The safety and well-being of passengers and crew members is Lufthansa’s top priority at all times,” the airline said in a statement.
The National Transportation Safety Board recently revealed that turbulence is still the leading cause of accidents and injuries aboard commercial airlines. In total, it topped out at 37.6% between 2009 to 2018. Thus, ensuring a smoother flight experience for passengers is paramount in keeping them safe during their travels.
Turbulence is a form of unsteady air movement that can be difficult to anticipate. People usually associate turbulence with strong storms. However, the most hazardous type is clear-air turbulence. This particular kind of instability has no obvious warning signals in the sky. It can prove incredibly dangerous if not recognized early enough.
On Wednesday night, Tennessee was struck by a series of storms. This produced powerful winds in the higher atmosphere, reported Scott Unger, a senior prognosticator for the National Weather Service in Nashville. “It was very windy aloft. [This] could easily lead to the possibility of turbulence with any flight,” Unger told ABC News.