20 Dec 2022

Passengers fly out of seats as Honolulu plane hits turbulence

12:17 pm on 20 December 2022
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Photo: AFP

Severe turbulence on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Hawaii has injured dozens of people including 11 seriously.

Reports say the turbulence hit around 30 minutes before landing, with some passengers flying out of their seats and at least one person hitting the ceiling.

The plane was carrying almost 280 passengers and 10 crew.

Emergency services treated passengers after the plane landed safely in Honolulu.

The US National Transportation Safety Board has announced that it would investigate the incident.

Hawaiian radio station KHON2 talked to one passenger, Hayata Ano who said, "It was just rocky. And then, it quickly just escalated to, like, the point where we're shaking so much that we were, like, pretty much like floating off of our chairs."

She said the severe turbulence only lasted a few seconds, but that was enough to injure several passengers. Photos from inside the aircraft showed damaged panels on the plane's overhead, possibly from passengers slamming into it.

The Honolulu Emergency Services Director James Ireland told the station emergency personnel treated 36 patients at the scene. Twenty of them, ranging from adults to a 14-month old were transported to hospitals.

"We had some patients with lacerations, including to the head," Dr Ireland said. "Definitely bumps and bruises. A large group of people, maybe 10 or so, were experiencing nausea and vomiting, which isn't an injury but just consequences of the extreme motion."

The Hawaiian Airlines Executive Vice President and COO Jon Snook said they often travel through stormy weather without incidents, but this was a rare occasion.