A Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 encountered unexpectedly heavy turbulence over the Pacific Ocean, injuring 36 onboard, with 20 requiring hospitalization.
Heavy Turbulence On Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 Injures 36
Hawaiian Airlines flight 35 from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) to Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) hit unexpected turbulence at 10:30 am Hawaiian Standard time on Sunday. Although the seat belt sign was on at the time, at least 36 passengers were hurt when the plane unexpectedly began violently shaking and lost altitude.
20 minutes later the Airbus A330-200 landed in Honolulu and was met by a team of emergency responders. 36 passengers were treated on the scene, with 20 taken to local hospitals (including 17 passengers and three crewmembers). Of the 20, 11 were seriously injured while nine suffered minor injuries. No passengers were critically injured. The youngest patient treated was 14 months old. Other passengers experienced nausea and vomiting.
A spokesperson for Hawaiian Airlines shared the following statement:
“Hawaiian Airlines is continuing to support the 17 passengers and three crew members who sustained injuries today after flight 35 from Phoenix to Honolulu encountered severe turbulence. The Airbus A330 aircraft carrying 278 passengers and 10 crew members landed safely in Honolulu about 10:50 a.m.
“We apologize to our guests for this incident and thank our crew members, first responders, hospital personnel and airport teams for their coordinated response. Hawaiian is conducting a thorough inspection of the aircraft before returning it to service.”
While thunderstorms were reported in the area, it is not clear what the source of the turbulence was.
The fact that incidents of heavy turbulence make headlines worldwide demonstrates how rare such events are. While pilots may receive some indication of approaching turbulence, sometimes everyone is surprised by how heavy it is or suddenly it materializes. The injuries are a poignant reminder that when the seatbelt sign is on, it is in your interest to fasten your seatbelt.