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Pax badly injured as SAA flight hits extreme turbulence

July 17, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Twenty-eight people have been injured, two seriously, when a South African Airways flight from Johannesburg to Hong Kong hit violent turbulence over Malaysia. Among passengers and crew taken to hospital on landing, two men were said by the Hong Kong fire department to be suffering critical injuries.

An Instagram photo of a large hole in the plane’s ceiling began circulating swiftly on social media.

“Guy next to me made this with his head,” was the comment from the passenger who posted it.“Guy next to me made this with his head._

South African Airways spokesperson Tlali Tlali confirmed in a statement that flight SA286, en route from Johannesburg to Hong Kong on Tuesday 15 July 2014 experienced severe turbulence injuring some passengers and crew.

“Flight SA286 landed safely in Hong Kong on Wednesday at approximately 06:30 SA time (12:30 Hong Kong time). The crew of the flight immediately requested medical assistance for the passengers, which was arranged and ready on arrival of the aircraft in Hong Kong.

“A  total number of 165 passengers was on board, of whom 25 passengers are known to have sustained injuries and 3 crew members.  The incident occurred whilst flying over the Kuala Lumpur airspace.”

Online flight tracking systems indicated flight SA286 was operated by an A340-300.

Hong Kong television news showed rescue workers wheeling an injured passenger on a stretcher while ambulances waited on the tarmac at Hong Kong International Airport.

South African news source News24 quoted Hong Kong airport authorities saying they were notified by the plane’s captain that the flight would be requiring emergency medical services when it came into land.

Details of the type of turbulence are not yet known. Air turbulence is worsening worldwide, reportedly, presumably reflecting changing weather patterns.

The aviation safety bulletin ‘Staying Safe Against In-flight Turbulence’, issued by the  Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), points out that 99% of people aboard an aircraft receive no injuries during a typical “turbulence event”.

“However, in recent research, the ATSB is seeing a doubling of turbulence and windshear events in passenger operations, some affecting the safety of those in the cabin,” the bulletin says.

Turbulence – described as “clear-air turbulence” when it happens in otherwise calm, blue skies – takes place when a mass of moving air hits another mass of air moving at a different speed.

This can be caused by jet streams, weather fronts, thunderstorms or air moving swiftly around mountains.


Written by Peter Needham

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