Etihad B773 over Bay of Bengal on Oct 18th 2011, turbulence injures 14

Last Update: November 13, 2012 / 18:48:55 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Oct 18, 2011


Aircraft Type
Boeing 777-300

ICAO Type Designator

The United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) released their final report concluding following factors led to the turbulence encounter:

Flight Crew

This combination of factors contributed to the late track deviation:
- Crew coordination
- Crew Resource Management
- HF Communications difficulties
- The absence of the Captain from the flight deck during the FIR transition and subsequent radio communication problems.
- The late recognition of the adverse weather on the weather radar
- The Captains delayed return to the flight deck immediately after the severe turbulence encounter effected the normalisation of the CRM environment.

Cabin Crew (CC)

- Not effectively monitoring the passenger use of the lavatories when the seat belt sign has been switch on.
- Performing routine CC organisational duties when the seat belt sign is on in the galley and associated areas.

The captain (ATPL, command course completed in July 2011, no further experience data provided) had left the cockpit to take a comfort break and had taken a seat in the business class seat. The first first officer (ATPL, 4th unsupervised flight as first officer) thus was pilot flying. The third (supernumerary) first officer (ATPL) was seated in the supernumerary seat (cruise relief pilot seat) and assisted the pilot flying with radio communication with Yangon and Kolkata. The second first officer (ATPL), not rated as cruise relief pilot, occupied the observer seat.

The weather enroute had been CAVOK (clouds and visibility okay), but now the crew observed an isolated thunderstorm cell about 20nm or two minutes ahead and illuminated the fasten seat belt sign, most passengers had their seat belts fastened. No moonlight was present, the crew could see the cell only on their weather radar display.

At that time confusing information was transmitted by Yangon frequency while performed the hand off to Kolkata FIR, and an air traffic control data uplink prrovided a further distraction to the crew. In order to clarify the confusing and garbled information provided by Yangon, the second first officer moved from the observer seat into the left hand seat to operate one HF radio contacting Yangon while the first first officer, pilot flying in the right hand seat, communicated with Kolkata on the other radio.

Due to the proximity of the thunderstorm cell the crew did not attempt to receive clearance for a deviation around the cell, but turned right off the airway to track about 7nm to the right of the airway center line. The aircraft was still offsetting while already passing the thunderstorm cell, when the aircraft encountered 45 seconds of severe turbulence with vertical accelerations ranging from -0.68G to +1.98G. The autopilot disconnected and the aircraft climbed about 600 feet with the stick shaker activating. The autopilot was re-activated and the aircraft descended back onto assigned flight level. Following the turbulence encounter the captain returned to the cockpit.

One cabin crew and one passenger received serious injuries, 7 cabin crew and 5 passengers received minor injuries as result of the turbulence encounter. The seriously injured passenger had been in a mid cabin lavatory at the time of the turbulence. A number of injured cabin crew members had been in the bunk on rest, the others working in the galleys. The crew requested assistance via Medlink, the operator received and acknowledged the Medlink message but overlooked the fact that the reported injuries were due to turbulence, which would have warranted call out. Ambulances were requested to meet the aircraft upon arrival instead.

10 safety recommendations were released as result of the investigation.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Oct 18, 2011


Aircraft Type
Boeing 777-300

ICAO Type Designator

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