An Evelop Airlines Airbus A330-300 flew from Mauritius to Madrid, Spain on August 20th, 2019. About four hours into the flight, as the plane was over Ethiopia, the aircraft encountered a patch of severe turbulence. Unfortunately, 16 people were injured as a result of the incident.
Evelop flight 838 left Sri Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport just before 10:00 local time. The 11 hour and 38 minute flight, as per FlightAware tracking, flew northwest and over Somalia and Ethiopia. According to the Aviation Herald, the aircraft encountered clear air turbulence which the pilots expected.
However, the turbulence turned out to be quite severe. Reports indicate that passengers and crewmembers impacted the cabin ceiling. In addition, loose items flew up and around the cabin, causing damage to the aircraft interior. Upon landing in Madrid, emergency services greeted the aircraft. All told, 16 received medical attention while 14 were taken to hospital before being discharged later.
The Airbus A330-300 operating this flight, EC-MII, flew several flights in the subsequent days. The A330 is the most popular type of aircraft in Evelop’s fleet.
The seatbelt sign
In the reporting of the incident, it appears that 11 passengers ignored the seatbelt sign when it was turned on. The pilots were aware of an area of turbulence ahead and, prior to arriving in the area, they switched on the seatbelt sign. Those 11 passengers suffered injuries in addition to three crewmembers.
This incident serves as a reminder to check the security of your seatbelt whenever the fasten seatbelt sign is on. Especially if the crew forewarns an upcoming area of turbulence.
Why did the aircraft continue the flight?
There were two doctors on board who attended to injured passengers. It appears that the crew believed they could continue the flight, as the injuries did not seem severe enough to warrant a diversion. With passengers not requiring immediate medical attention, a diversion would add inconvenience to the passengers and crew who would have to, most likely, spend a night in a foreign country.
Evelop Airlines is a Spanish airline offering low-cost flights to leisure destinations. Recently, they put out an advertisement highlighting unruly passenger behavior.
Whether this incident prompts the airline to revisit their advertising scheme with one about proper seatbelt sign adherence is unknown. However, it is important for passengers to heed the seatbelt sign. Even if the sign is off, seated passengers are requested to remain belted into their seats in case of unexpected rough air.
It’s a shame that passengers and crew sustained injuries due to a severe patch of turbulence. Thankfully, the injuries were not life-threatening and no one required extended medical attention after landing. Unfortunately for other passengers, due to climate change, turbulence is becoming more common and a lot worse.
Do you keep your seatbelt fastened even if the sign is off? What are your thoughts on this incident? Let us know in the comments!