Heavy turbulence during WestJet flight injures nine people

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Friday, September 7, 2007

A WestJet Boeing 737-700.

Nine passengers were injured after heavy turbulence during a WestJet flight 80 Boeing 737-700 plane flight yesterday night, causing it to drop 300 metres.

The plane was coming from Calgary International Airport in Calgary, Alberta, where their headquarters are located, and was to arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

There were very minor cases of turbulence, enough that many passengers felt it. The plane, flying at an altitude of about 12,000 metres and 39,000 feet, started getting very heavy turbulence near Sudbury, Ontario, in northern Ontario. The pilot had already spoken to the passengers through intercom about the turbulence. As soon as the seat belt light came on it was too late for many passengers and the plane, at once, started dropping. The people that were standing at the time of the incident were thrown around the cabin. A man, who later suffered from bad lacerations to his head and leg, had fallen on top of his wife.

Registered nurse Kathi Nelson and licensed practical nurse Nancy Powers, both from British Columbia, were aboard the plane and treated the injured passengers until the plane landed. The injured were taken out of the plane by a large lift.

"The things that were in the pocket in front of me, that are normally fairly snug, went straight up and straight down again," said Powers. "People were nervous and a little bit uncomfortable with what just happened and they weren't sure whether to laugh, scream, or cry."

Three passengers were taken to QEII Health Sciences Centre hospital and six others were treated at the scene after the plane landed at Halifax Stanfield International Airport at or around 7:30 p.m. All nine have been released.

"We provided emergency response and three ambulances were escorted to the tarmac so they were available immediately adjacent to the aircraft," said Peter Spurway, a spokesman for Robert L. Stanfield International Airport Authority, which owns Halifax Stanfield International Airport. He also said they were notified 40 minutes before of the injuries.

"We would only investigate if we thought that there was a good potential to advance aviation safety," Mike Cunningham of the Transportation Safety Board said today. "So if it turns out to be just an unfortunate encounter that was handled in the proper fashion by the crew, there's no need for us to investigate further than that."

WestJet classified the turbulence as "moderate". Thundershowers also could have caused the problem.

"It's just that it's a little bumpier," said WestJet spokesman Richard Bartrem. In moderate turbulence, "the plane's going to get bounced around a little bit."

The Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada are investigating if flight crew followed proper procedures. If no evidence is found the Transportation Safety Board will back out of the investigation.