Emirates’ turbulence incident injures 23, highlights need to wear seat belts at all times

An Emirates airline Boeing 777-21H registration A6-EML performing flight EK530 from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (DXB) to Kochi, India (COK) with 350 passengers and 14 crew, was en-route at FL350 (35,000ft) and just about to begin descent towards Kochi, when the airplane experienced severe turbulence for a brief period of time.

Emirates Airlines Boeing 777-200 turbulence Kochi incident accident A6-EML

As per a statement released by the airline, the plane experienced an extreme vertical descent of about 200ft which resulted in 20 passengers and 3 crew members being injured. The plane continued on to Kochi and made a safe landing. The injured were taken to local hospital and treated.

The aircraft was grounded for a day while India’s DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation), which is required by Indian law to investigate any flight incident involving injuries, examined the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) to determine if the aircraft exceed vertical acceleration limits for any of the numerous weld-joints on the airframe. The aircraft returned to Dubai the next day with its full complement of crew on-board.

A replacement aircraft was flown in to transport passengers.

Confusion on location

Flight Path Emirates Ek530There is confusion on the exact location of the incident.
While the airline statement claims

The aircraft encountered a weather cloud near Bengaluru over the Chennai-Mumbai FIR (Flight Information Region)

As per sources in ATC the aircraft was nowhere near Bangalore. The normal track of the flight would be on airway P570R to waypoint POMAN (N11 56.1, E072 00.0) about 175nm (308 km) west of Mangalore, within the Mangalore CTA, then track ESE 115 degrees on W92 to Kochi. Based on timing of the incident i.e. the aircraft was on top of descent, it appears the incident has occurred near POMAN enroute to Kochi.

Need for safety and sobriety

As usual the mainstream media including luminaries like TimesNow TV, and Yahoo! led the panic with scaremongering stories. Wild claims that the aircraft fell from 20,000ft to 1,500ft left all in the aviation industry and aviation focussed media just shaking our heads.

Unfortunately, these mainstream media have so much clout with a public clamouring for sensationalist stories, that even airline officials run scared and refuse to divulge vital information to the more knowledgeable media which will explain the whole truth. For example, despite many requests Emirates airlines refuses to divulge the exact latitude and longitude of the incident.

This incident underscores Bangalore Aviation’s campaign to remind readers and passengers worldwide to always always always wear seat belts when seated on-board a flight. In this incident almost all the injured were not wearing their seatbelts. Please wear your seat belt, even if loosely around your waist. When sleeping, wear your blanket first, and then fasten your seat belt on the outside of your blanket. If nothing else the cabin crew will not wake you up just to instruct you to wear your safety belt. If it is tight, or you are a large person, ask for an extension. It is not embarrassing, and safety is paramount.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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