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Air Canada Flight 33

37 passengers injured after turbulence

An Air Canada Boeing 777 had to make an unscheduled landing in Honolulu after severe turbulence. Passengers and flight attendants were injured during unexpected and violent clear air turbulence.

Air Canada’s Boeing 777-200 LR was cruising at 36,000 feet or about 10,970 meters and travelling short of 1000 kilometers southwest of Hawaii while the flight attendants were handing out snacks to the 269 passengers. Them and the 15 crew members suddenly noticed how the plane began to shake violently. Flight AC33 from Vancouver to Sydney had gotten into so-called clear air turbulences which pilots cannot predict.

After it only slightly shook for a few seconds at first, the Boeing 777 was hit harder. “I saw passengers in front of me being thrown into the overhead bins and falling back into their seats,” a traveler described the experience to the radio station CBC. During the heavy turbulences 37 people were injured, nine of which severely. The Air Canada pilots therefore decided to make an unscheduled landing in Honolulu, where the injured passengers received medical care.

Important: Comply with rules

The incident once again shows how important it is for passengers to have their seatbelts fastened throughout the entire flight. This is because clear air turbulence occurs unexpectedly. In addition, the American Federal Aviation Administration FAA advises passengers to comply with the regulations for hand luggage, as carry-ons can also go flying through the cabin. In 2017, 17 people were injured in similar incidents in the USA, eight of which were flight attendants. A year earlier, there were 42, 13 being crew members.

Pilots can take certain turbulences into account when planning the flight. They are the result of weather phenomena such as fronts or thunderstorms. Monitoring weather reports and their on-board radar, pilots can fly around them. This is not possible with clear air turbulence, which is not dangerous though for the aircraft itself.

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