Seven people – three flight attendants and four passengers – were injured when a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu to Sydney encountered unexpected severe turbulence late last week.
The flight, which is approximately eleven hours duration had departed Hawaii in the early afternoon of last Friday.
The in-flight incident
Flight HA451, operated by an Airbus A330, was carrying 163 passengers and 12 crew members and was operating a scheduled service between Honolulu and Sydney.
The flight encountered unexpected severe turbulence approximately five hours into the flight, according to a statement made by Hawaiian Airlines.
The turbulence was so severe that it caused the plane to drop several hundred feet, and passengers were thrown from their seats.
Following the in-flight incident, the aircraft subsequently made an uneventful landing at Sydney Airport at 7.35PM local time.
Three of the injured passengers were treating upon landing at Sydney by paramedics, and were subsequently released. One passenger and three flight attendants were referred to hospital for further evaluation, according to the airline.
The injuries experienced ranged from minor bruises and cuts to more serious head and neck injuries. It is understood that those referred were released from the hospital a few hours later.
“Our immediate priority is to continue to care for our passengers and crew affected by this turbulence event, and we thank Sydney airport first responders for their swift assistance,” the airline said in their statement.
Previous in-flight incident
The encounter with severe turbulence experienced by flight HA451 last Friday follows a previous turbulence related incident on December 18, 2022.
In last year’s incident, Hawaiian airlines flight HA35 was operating between Phoenix and Honolulu when it encountered severe turbulence at a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet, approximately 40 minutes out from landing.
According to the NTSB preliminary report, the turbulence was unexpected and the flight conditions just prior to the encounter have been described as smooth with clear skies, leaving the flight crew with just seconds to react.
In that incident, 25 people on board were injured, and of those that subsequently require treatment, six were seriously injured.