Turbulence Injures – Haven’t We Said That Before?

By | August 3, 2009
Big 767
Image by Pylon757 via Flickr

A Continental Airlines flight from Brazil to Texas hit turbulence early this morning, injuring at least 26 people, 4 of them seriously. Continental reports that the fasten seatbelt sign was on at the time. The aircraft, a Boeing 767, had 168 passengers and 11 crew onboard and made an emergency landing in Miami.

Turbulence is the leading cause, according to the FAA, of nonfatal injuries to airline passengers and crew. About 60 people a year get hurt due to turbulence, mostly because they were NOT wearing their seatbelts. We emphasize this because we have said it before. Over a quarter century from 1980-2004, US carriers suffered three fatalities due to turbulence, as well as hundreds of injuries. From 1996-2005, turbulence has accounted for 22% of all airline accidents, and 49% of the serious-injury accidents, according to the NTSB.

Passengers on the Continental plane, interviewed by the Miami Herald, point out the dangers of a plane in sudden turbulence. The metal edge of a tray table slashed one passenger, producing a deep gash. One woman slammed into the ceiling, her head getting stuck in the frame above. Unsecured objects, including those from the in-flight service, became projectiles.

Even people secured in their seats can  be subject to flying debris, but you are much more likely to be injured if you are not wearing your seatbelt at all times when you do not need to get up or when the fasten seatbelt sign is on. We have said this before, and will no doubt say it again. Do not risk injury for a non-emergency trip to the bathroom, to stretch your legs, or just because you don’t want the seatbelt on for comfort reasons. You’ll thank us later.

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