A Qantas A330-200 ran into strong turbulence yesterday, Monday, November 4, whilst en route to Australia, causing injuries to three flight attendants. One flight attendant was hospitalised after the flight landed in Sydney. There were no reports of injuries to passengers onboard the flight.
The Aviation Herald is reporting that VH-EBS was operating QF108 yesterday. QF108 is the regular overnight service between Beijing (PEK) and Sydney (SYD). Approximately midway through the flight, near Palau, the A330-200 hit a patch of turbulence and dropped suddenly.
The three flight attendants were working the cabin when they were reportedly lifted off the floor and struck the overhead lockers, allegedly hard enough to cause some damage. The turbulence was unexpected and there was no warning. There were no passengers injured but some were reportedly flung from their seats.
Flight Aware tracking does show the aircraft dropping altitude suddenly midway through the flight, rising and falling for a period of time, before a steady climb back to cruising altitude.
A Qantas spokesperson said;
“Unexpected turbulence is why we always recommend passengers keep their seat belt firmly fastened at all times.”
Any damage to the aircraft interior caused by passengers or crew hitting overhead lockers or the cabin ceiling may be overstated. Fit for service, VH-EBS went on to operate an overnight return service to Denpasar and is today scheduled to operate a service up to Shanghai.
Reports of passengers hitting overhead lockers
The Australian evening TV news bulletins carried reports regarding the incident last evening. While there are some inconsistencies in the recounting, most reports carried stories of passengers screaming and some being flung from their seats.
One passenger told Channel 7 News;
“It was really scary actually because we kind of jumped in the air, no-one had their seat belt on because the seat belt light wasn’t on.”
This is kind of interesting as most halfway seasoned travelers know to keep their seatbelts on even if the seatbelt light is off. Qantas reinforces this with a verbal request from the flight crew on every flight I have been on.
Channel 7 News went on to quote another passenger saying;
“A lady passenger beside me hit the underside of the overhead lockers and she actually broke a piece of the plastic off.”
One passenger told Channel 10 News;
“Well, I was fast asleep and then all of a sudden I was flying through the air.”
Six hours into the flight would have seen the incident occurring just after dawn. Most passengers would still have been dozing. There were some reports of food and utensils being flung about the cabin.
Despite these reports, no passengers needed medical attention upon arrival.
Qantas advises that, of the three injured flight attendants, two were treated by ambulance staff upon arrival at Sydney Airport and a third was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure