New Delhi: An Air India aircraft flying from Amritsar to Delhi on Thursday (April 19) ran into such severe turbulence that three passengers suffered injuries, the inside part of a window panel came off and some overhead oxygen masks got deployed.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner (VT-ANI) had a very turbulent flight for 10 to 15 minutes during climb phase from 8,000 feet to 21,000 feet, the cause of which is being probed by the airline and aviation agencies.
“The turbulence on AI 462 was such that the head of a seated passenger, who possibly did not have his seat belt fastened, hit the overhead cabin because of a bump. The person suffered injuries. Two more had minor injuries. The inside of a window panel (18-A) came off.
The outside window did not break and there was no de-pressursation. Passengers were naturally terrified,” said sources.
Some oxygen masks also dropped during the severe turbulent phase of the flight. The overhead panel cover of seat 12-U got cracks. “This was a freak high level turbulence. AI and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is probing it,” said a senior AI official.
On landing in Delhi, the three passengers were taken to hospital. “Our emergency response and angels took care of the three injured passengers who were taken to a hospital on landing in Delhi. The passenger whose head hit the overhead panel got stitches. Two passengers suffered minor injuries. They are all fine and took their connecting flights after getting the first aid. The passenger who got stitches said he felt ok and the doctors said he could travel. Our angels were with him throughout,” said the official.
DGCA has started probing this freak turbulence and also informed the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB).
AI did not comment on this issue till the time of going to press. The parallel being drawn by investigators is with a similar situation faced by a Singapore Airlines flight in October, 2014, when it was descending to land in Mumbai. The Airbus A-380 was hit by a sudden turbulence on descent, injuring 22 passengers and crew. Eight passengers and 14 crew members, who had sustained injuries, got first aid on arrival in Mumbai. Of the 14 crew members, 10 had required hospitalization and were discharged soon afterwards.
“Turbulence can be really severe when a plane flies it. The SIA incident of 2014 had happened with the biggest commercial airliner, A-380, which saw so many injuries. This week’s AI incident happened with a twin aisle Dreamliner. Why it happened is being probed,” said sources. In past few days, Delhi and north India have seen sand storms and winds blowing at high speed. Whether this was a contributing or only factor is something which the probe will reveal.