Jetblue A320 near Rapid City on Aug 11th 2016, turbulence injures 27
Last Update: September 25, 2020 / 14:16:10 GMT/Zulu time
Passengers reported those not belted into their seats were lifted against the ceiling and then slammed down again. A number of cabin ceiling panels received cracks.
A replacement A320-200 registration N663JB was dispatched to Rapid City and reached Sacramento with a delay of 7.5 hours.
On Aug 15th 2016 the FAA reported 2 occupants received serious, 20 minor injuries.
On Dec 9th 2016 the NTSB reported the aircraft was enroute at FL320 maneouvering to avoid convective weather then the aircraft encountered turbulence causing minor injuries to 24 passengers and 3 flight attendants. The aircraft receiving minor damage.
On Sep 25th 2020 the NTSB released their final report concluding the probable cause of the occurrence was:
an inadvertent encounter with convective turbulence while in cruise flight.
The NTSB summarized the sequence of events:
The scheduled passenger flight was enroute at a cruise altitude of flight level 320 (FL320), when the airplane encountered severe turbulence. Of the 2 pilots, 3 flight attendants, and 146 passengers onboard, all three flight attendants and 28 passengers sustained minor injuries. The pilots subsequently diverted to a nearby airport and landed without further incident.
The pilots reported that the onboard weather radar depicted some precipitation along the route, and the captain informed the flight attendants to remain seated and turned the seatbelt sign on. After the flight exited some of the light precipitation, the crew observed cumulonimbus clouds ahead and subsequently requested and were granted a deviation around the clouds; however, the airplane encountered turbulence as it flew through the edge of the clouds. The first officer stated that it "felt like they went up and then dropped," and the captain described the encounter as "very violent and very quick."
The flight attendants reported that the flight had been experiencing light turbulence when the captain called to state that it would continue for the next 30 to 45 minutes. One of the flight attendants made a public address announcement to the passengers to remain seated with their seatbelts on; at this time, all three of the flight attendants were seated in their jumpseats. The turbulence continued for about 10 minutes before it smoothed out, and all three flight attendants got up from their seats to conduct various tasks throughout the cabin. The airplane subsequently encountered what they described as "extreme," "violent" turbulence, and all three sustained injuries.
A review of the flight plan showed convective SIGMETs and thunderstorms that were forecasted and valid on or near the route of flight. The pilots reported that they only saw areas of green returns on their onboard radar and did not see any indication of severe weather. Additionally, there were no pilot reports (PIREPs) to indicate that other aircraft were encountering severe turbulence, nor did air traffic control provide any information to indicate that they might encounter such turbulence.
The NTSB detailed:
During the turbulence encounter, computed airspeed increased from about 275 knots (kts) to 285 knots as the airplane was in a left bank, and the vertical acceleration increased to +1.7 g. After fluctuating at positive g values for about 6 seconds, the vertical acceleration began to decrease, reaching a maximum negative value of 0.75 g.
This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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