Seven injured as severe turbulence forces Lufthansa flight to make emergency landing in Virginia
A Lufthansa flight en route to Frankfurt from Austin, Texas, had to be diverted to Dulles International Airport in Virginia just outside Washington DC after experiencing major turbulence.
Upon landing, seven people were taken to hospitals in the area.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that the flight crew reported encountering significant turbulence while flying over Tennessee at an altitude of 37,000 feet (11,277 metres).
The FAA will investigate the incident which involved an Airbus A330. Lufthansa flight LH469 landed at Dulles at about 9.10pm on Wednesday.
“The plane landed safely at IAD. Authority personnel responded to the flight and transported seven people to local hospitals,” the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) said in a statement, according to The Daily Beast.
Passengers told NBC Washington that the flight started with a small amount of turbulence but it was going okay as the crew was serving food and drink when the plane dropped sharply two times within the span of 20 seconds.
Jazz Kantipudi told the local outlet that he saw a member of the flight crew hit the floor as he lost his footing while handing out drinks.
“He was literally standing up serving drinks, so he had no way to brace himself,” Mr Kantipudi told NBC. “At one of the drops, he literally, completely, hit the ceiling and dropped down and was completely horizontal.”
“I looked to my right and I saw him just up there, and it was honestly kind of freaky... like something out of a movie,” he added.
Footage from the plane shows food and packaging covering the aisle of the plane.
A passenger said the pilot told the passenger that the plane had dropped about 4,000 feet (1,333 metres).
The MWAA said the crews reviewed the passengers’ injuries before seven of them were taken to hospital and the plane was offloaded.
Lufthansa said the flight “encountered brief but severe turbulence about 90 minutes after takeoff” and that the crew “made an unscheduled landing at Washington Dulles Airport as a precautionary measure,” according to The Washington Post.
The airline added that after landing, “affected passengers received medical attention”.
One passenger told the paper that the plane went into “free fall” at the beginning of the dinner service.
The passenger, speaking anonymously concerned they might not receive compensation from the airline if they revealed their identity, told The Post that both people and food “went flying into the air, hitting and even damaging the ceiling of the plane”.
A passenger in front of the anonymous individual was “badly hurt” and had blood covering their seat and was later taken off the plane in a wheelchair.
The passenger speaking to The Post, as well as their travelling companion, was uninjured but food and wine ruined their clothes.
The airline paid for them to stay in a hotel and also paid for a taxi but didn’t compensate for other expenses, the passenger told The Post.
The airline said ground staff at Dulles were “currently attending to the well-being of passengers and rebooking them accordingly” and said they regretted the “inconvenience caused to passengers”.
The Independent has reached out to Lufthansa for comment.