Passengers Injured Mid-Flight Due to Severe Turbulence

An Air Europa flight from Spain to Uruguay faced severe turbulence, causing multiple injuries and necessitating an emergency landing in Brazil.

Published July 03, 2024 - 00:07am

4 minutes read

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Severe turbulence on an Air Europa flight from Madrid to Uruguay on Monday led to the plane making an emergency landing in Natal, Brazil. This incident left more than two dozen passengers injured, with some suffering from neck and skull fractures.

The turbulence occurred over four hours into the flight, leading to a chaotic scene inside the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. According to flight data, the aircraft experienced significant air disturbances, causing some passengers to hit their heads, resulting in head, neck, and chest injuries. Brazilian public health officials reported that 36 passengers received medical treatment, with 23 of them being hospitalized. By Monday evening, five passengers remained in the hospital, with four in intensive care.

Passengers described a harrowing experience, with some being thrown from their seats and striking the plane's interior. Two women told Telemundo that at least one passenger became stuck in the plane's ceiling area. Videos posted on social media captured the aftermath, showing broken ceiling panels and seats, and passengers assisting those stuck in overhead compartments.

Eva Saravia, a passenger from Uruguay, recounted, A person was left hanging between the plastic ceiling and the metal roof behind it, and they had to be brought down. The same thing happened to a baby. Another passenger, seated next to the man wedged in the ceiling, described how he flew and got stuck in an overhead bin.

The turbulence was particularly severe due to the plane's sudden drop, with one passenger reporting that the plane fell about 400 meters at 1,000 kilometers per hour. Another traveler mentioned that people without seatbelts were launched into the air, causing the significant injuries observed. The rapid descent was attributed to a sudden deceleration, causing unrestrained passengers to move forward at high speeds.

In the aftermath of the incident, the Consulate of Uruguay in Brasilia began investigating the cause of the turbulence. The airline, Air Europa, issued a statement detailing their response: The plane has landed normally and those who sustained different types of injuries are already being treated. The turbulence did not appear to be due to any malfunction of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. However, the occurrence adds to the scrutiny Boeing has faced in recent years regarding the safety of its aircraft manufacturing processes.

Initially mild turbulence gave passengers a false sense of security, according to one passenger interviewed by Telemundo. After 20 minutes of minimal turbulence, the plane suddenly dropped, throwing unrestrained passengers into the plane's ceiling. The sudden fall lasted for approximately four to six seconds, leaving passengers bewildered and frightened.

Amidst the injuries and chaos onboard, passengers were particularly concerned for the children, who were more vulnerable to slipping out of their seatbelts. Following the emergency landing in Natal, those with severe injuries were rushed to the city's Monsenhor Walfredo Gurgel Hospital. The remaining passengers awaited a substitute plane to complete their journey to Montevideo.

This turbulent episode highlights the importance of adhering to seatbelt warnings issued by flight crews. Passengers aboard flight UX045 received warnings to remain seated and buckle up before the severe turbulence hit. However, some passengers were walking around or not wearing seatbelts when the turbulence drastically altered the flight's stability.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner planes have faced criticism from whistleblowers regarding the safety of their construction processes. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Department of Justice have launched multiple investigations into Boeing following reports of safety issues, although it's unclear if these factors played a role in the recent turbulence incident.

For Air Europa and Boeing, the focus remains on addressing the immediate needs of injured passengers and ensuring the safety of future flights. As passengers recover from their physical and psychological injuries, the aviation industry continues to assess and improve safety measures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.


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