Passengers and crew injured after turbulence on Doha to Dublin flight

Twelve people on board Qatar Airways flight hurt after bumpy journey over Turkey

The Qatar Airways flight landed safely as scheduled shortly before 1pm in Dublin on Sunday. EPA
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Twelve people have been injured during turbulence on a flight from Doha to Dublin.

Dublin Airport said six passengers and six crew were hurt after experiencing turbulence over Turkey during the Qatar Airways flight.

Flight QR017, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, was met by emergency services after it landed as scheduled shortly before 1pm Dublin time on Sunday.

Irish broadcaster RTE, citing passengers disembarking, said the incident lasted less than 20 seconds and occurred during food and drinks service.

Dublin Airport said eight passengers were taken to hospital.

"The return flight to Doha (flight QR018) is scheduled to operate as normal this afternoon, albeit with a delay," it said. "Flight operations at Dublin Airport were unaffected and continue as normal this afternoon."

A spokeswoman for Qatar Airways told The National the passengers and crew sustained minor injuries and were receiving medical attention.

The airline has opened an internal investigation into the incident.

“Qatar Airways can confirm that flight QR017 a Boeing B787-9 from Doha to Dublin has landed safely," she said. "A small number of passengers and crew sustained minor injuries in flight and are now receiving medical attention. The matter is now subject to an internal investigation.

"The safety and security of our passengers and crew are our top priority.”

Dublin Airport said police and fire and rescue teams met the aircraft on arrival.

“The Dublin Airport team continues to provide full assistance on the ground to passengers and airline staff,” an airport statement said on X.

It comes a week after one passenger died and dozens were injured on a flight from London’s Heathrow Airport to Singapore when a Singapore Airlines plane hit an air pocket, causing it to plunge several thousand feet.

A British man died from a suspected heart attack, while seven others were critically injured after sustaining head injuries. Nine crew members and 23 passengers suffered moderate injuries. Sixteen others with less serious injuries received hospital treatment, while another 14 were treated at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, where the plane had been diverted and had landed.

The Boeing 777, which was carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members, descended 6,000 feet in about three minutes after encountering severe turbulence over the Andaman Sea.

The aircraft returned to Singapore on Sunday, five days after its emergency landing in Thai capital, the airline said in a statement.

Fifty-two people who were on board remain in Bangkok, it said.

Five of the injured are still in intensive care – three Australians, one British and one New Zealander – Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok said on Sunday.

A 2021 study by the US National Transportation Safety Board four from 2009 to 2018 turbulence accounted for more than a third of reported airline accidents and most resulted in one or more serious injuries, but no aircraft damage.

'Getting worse'

A recent report that found bumpier flights are more common than ever before, with clear-air turbulence intensifying significantly in the past four decades.

Clear-air turbulence occurs at high altitudes in otherwise clear skies and is often associated with the jet stream – fast-flowing air currents that move from West to East in the upper atmosphere. It is the most dangerous type of turbulence because it cannot be foreseen and is virtually undetectable with current technology.

One former pilot told The National there can, however, be subtle signs associated with clear-air turbulence.

“Often they have different temperatures and there is no alarm for that. You have to be looking at the outside air temperature gauge to spot it," Chris Hammond, a retired British Airways and easyJet pilot, told The National.

Turbulence has only been tracked since the 1970s but has been rising, most likely due to an increase in temperatures, say experts.

“We now have strong evidence that turbulence is increasing because of climate change," Prof Paul Williams, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Reading, told The National.

"We recently discovered that severe clear-air turbulence in the North Atlantic has increased by 55 per cent since 1979. Our latest future projections indicate a doubling or trebling of severe turbulence in the jet streams in the coming decades, if the climate continues to change as we expect.”

Updated: May 26, 2024, 3:01 PM