29 Injured After New York Bound Turkish Airlines Flight Hits Freak Turbulence

A Turkish Airlines flight encountered severe turbulence near the end of its 10-hour flight from Istanbul to New York City, resulting in 29 passengers, including one flight attendant to suffer injuries. Thankfully, none of the injuries were life-threatening, but they were transported to local hospitals immediately after landing in John F Kennedy International Airport.

Turkish Airlines encounters extreme turbulence
29 passengers were injured during extreme turbulence. Photo: Sead Nikaj (Video)

Unusual Turbulence on Flight

The Boeing 777 aircraft used for the flight held 326 passengers and 18 crew members. The plane was expected to land in the evening of Saturday, March 9th, when it hit freak turbulence soon before arriving in New York. While the aircraft was flying over Maine, approximately 45-minutes before landing, the turbulence came as a surprise even for the crew members.

The turbulence caused the plane to drop suddenly, resulting in the majority of injuries on the first occurrence. Because the turbulence was so unexpected, flight operations were proceeding as usual just before it happened. Passengers onboard the flight claim that the seat belt signs were off and no warning was made before the incident.

As the aircraft hit the turbulence, passengers and crew were thrown out of their seats. Many people flew up and hit the ceilings, overhead bins, and the side of the plane. One passenger was even trapped inside the bathroom when the incident occurred, resulting in head injuries before he was able to get out. The scene on the plane became chaotic after the initial sign of turbulence. Photos and videos captured by passengers on the flight show a bloody cabin, fallen panels, and loud cries of prayer.

The Turkish Airlines crew immediately declared an emergency, but by that time most of the damage had already been done.

Inside the Turkish Airlines aircraft after turbulence injuries
Bloody ceilings and fallen panels were the result of the extreme turbulence. Photo: Sead Nikaj (Video)

Arriving in JFK

The Turkish Airlines flight landed safely in JFK, just after 5pm, where emergency vehicles immediately met the plane to transport the injured passengers to hospital facilities. Most of the injured passengers were taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Centre while a couple of others were sent to Queens Hospital Medical Centre. Of the injuries sustained, the flight attendant suffered the worst with a broken leg. Most of the other injuries were cuts and bruises.

Turkish Airlines was unaware that the plane would encounter these conditions during the flight, citing it as ‘unusual turbulence’ during a statement released about the incident. The airline also mentions that it ‘closely monitors the health status of injured passengers, and is making resources available to them’.

Chaotic Scene onboard Turkish Airlines flight
Chaotic Scene onboard Turkish Airlines flight after turbulence incident. Photo: Sead Nikaj (Video)

The exact cause of the turbulence is unknown, but it could be weather-related. When the plane was approaching the weather conditions, the crew should have been alerted for cautious conditions. This scenario didn’t happen, which is the reason that passengers were not prepared when the turbulence struck.

The Turkish Airlines flight was the second plane incident for the day in the area. The nearby Newark International Airport also received a plane earlier that morning making an emergency landing due to smoke in the cargo hold.