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On Wednesday, EVA Air Flight 56 from Taipei (TPE) to Chicago (ORD) encountered turbulence off the coast of Japan. The incident left 11 injured: three passengers and eight cabin crew members. According to an initial report released by Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council on Friday, the injured “suffered abrasion and contusion injuries” and one of the cabin crew was dealt “a serious injury,” although the extent of that injury wasn’t detailed.
The incident is considered serious enough that the Aviation Safety Council has assigned an “Investigator-In-Charge and an investigation team” to look into the incident.
According to FlightRadar24 data, the episode occurred when the aircraft — a three year old Boeing 777-300ER with registration B-16718 — was cruising at 31,000 feet about 1:17 hours into the 12:20-hour flight. There were 199 people on board — 178 passengers (174 passengers and 4 infants) and 21 crew (3 pilots, 15 flight attendants and 3 off-duty pilots). Considering the large ratio of crew injuries to passenger injuries and the photos of the cabin after the incident, it seems that the turbulence occurred during a meal service.
The puzzling part of the incident is that the flight continued on to Chicago and didn’t divert. It’d be understandable if the flight was only an hour or two away from landing, but the event occurred near Japan with over 11 hours left in the flight and plenty of potential diversion airports nearby.
An EVA Air spokesman told the UK’s Daily Mail that the injured passengers and crew members were attended to by doctors onboard the flight. All 11 were taken to the hospital upon arrival in Chicago. Each passenger reportedly received $300 for the incident.
Update 11/27: The airline has followed up to provide a bit more detail. The turbulence was detected ahead of time and the seat belt sign was illuminated at the time of the incident. As we suspected, the incident occurred during meal time.
All 11 injured were transported to the hospital. The airline also clarified that “EVA also gave each of the injured passengers US$300.00 to help make up for some of the discomfort and inconvenience.” As for the question of why the airline didn’t divert, the airline said that it can’t comment on the matter.
Turbulence happens, sometimes unexpectedly. That’s why passengers are told to keep their seat belts fastened whenever seated. That said, turbulence incidents that leave passengers injured only occur on a very small fraction of flights. If you’re a nervous flyer, here’s some more reading about turbulence from experts at The Points Guy:
- The Truth About Flight Turbulence: What Every Passenger Should Know
- Insider Series: A Day in the Life of a Pilot — Things That Go Bump in the Sky
- The SkyGuru App Promises to Reduce Your Anxiety About Turbulence
- What’s Causing That Turbulence on Your Flight?
H/T: Aviation Herald
Featured image by FG/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images
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