Actually an incident from July that didn’t get much or any coverage at the time but has quietly turned up in the NTSB database. It’s the classic turbulence gotcha – lovely clear day, nice new aircraft, landing in sunny Fort Myers shortly – you can easily picture the scene. Crew puts on seatbelt signs, some people don’t obey, then wham! One pax with spinal fractures and one with bust ribs, plus various bumps and bruises.
At risk of boring you – if you do nothing else to protect yourself in an aircraft – strap in. (And stay strapped in.) For more on this, click on turbulence in tag cloud on the right of the page.
Here’s the report.
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of JETBLUE AIRWAYS CORP
Accident occurred Friday, July 10, 2009 in Fort Myers, FL
Aircraft: AIRBUS A320-232, registration: N606JB
Injuries: 2 Serious, 2 Minor, 149 Uninjured.
On July 10, 2009, about 1600 eastern daylight time, an Airbus A320-232, N606JB, operated by JetBlue Airways Corp. as flight 133, encountered turbulence while on approach to Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), Fort Myers, Florida. The 2 certificated airline transport pilots, 3 flight attendants, and 144 passengers were not injured; while 2 passengers received serious injuries and 2 passengers received minor injuries. The airplane was not damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at RSW and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the air carrier flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121. The flight originated from John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York, New York, at 1403.
According to the captain’s written statement, as the airplane was descending through 12,000 feet and went through a small cloud (top approximately 14,000 feet), it was jolted. Specifically, the airplane dropped about 20 feet instantaneously. The seatbelt sign had been on since 19,000 feet (about 5 minutes) and there were no returns showing on the radar within 20 miles of the airplane’s position. Additionally, the captain had asked the flight attendants to be seated a few minutes prior to the turbulence encounter. Within 15 seconds of getting the jolt, the airplane was in clear air and the captain called the flight attendants to tell them it was okay to get up. He was then notified that a female passenger in seat 24C did not have her seatbelt on, and had fallen forward into the stowed tray table in front of her. Shortly thereafter, the captain was notified that another female passenger (seat 22C) was in one of the aft lavatory during the turbulence and was complaining of back pain. The flight landed uneventfully and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel boarded the airplane at the gate. At that time, two additional passengers (seats 21E and 24E) informed EMS that they were injured. All four passengers were transported to a local hospital.
According to a Senior Air Safety Investigator at JetBlue, the passengers in seats 21E and 24E were released from the hospital with no fractures noted. The passenger in the lavatory suffered two spinal fractures and the passenger in 24C suffered fractures of two ribs.
The recorded weather at RSW, at 1553, was: wind from 090 degrees at 6 know; sky clear; visibility 10 miles; temperature 32 degrees Celsius; dew point 21 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.10 inches of mercury.