Emirates plane hits airpocket

Plunges 15,000 ft, 25 passengers hurt

Emirates plane hits airpocket

Passengers of an Emirates aircraft which made an emergency landing at the Nedumbasserry International Airport in Kochi on Sunday. PTIHowever, flight EK530 carrying 350 passengers and a 14-member crew landed safely at the Cochin International Airport  30 minutes later around 8.50 am.

Several passengers said they feared for the worse as the plane suddenly began to lose height and some of them were thrown off their seats.

Reports claimed that the incident took place when the aircraft fell sharply from 20,000 feet to 5,000 feet but the Emirates statement disputed this and clarified that the drop was just 200 feet.

Cell phone clippings taken by passengers showed damaged interiors of the aircraft under the impact of the turbulence. A couple of luggage panels were seen burst open and oxygen masks and other safety equipment hung down.

Biju Thomas, 40, who was admitted to  hospital with shoulder dislocation said that his child was thrown from the seat and his wife suffered head injury.

“For a few moments we thought it might be the end. But things steadied soon. The crew were very supportive, too,’’ he said.

At least seven passengers, including a child, were brought to the medical investigation room at the airport with sprains, bumps and bruises. Some passengers said they were not given the customary warning to fasten the seat belts.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has launched a high-level inquiry into the incident. The initial conclusion is that the pilot of the flight failed to spot the formation of thunderclouds in time and take a deviation.

An official statement from Emirates said the flight from Dubai to Kochi encountered “a short period of heavy turbulence” prior to descent into India and there were 350 passengers on board the flight.

“The flight landed safely in Kochi and the captain requested medical support to meet the aircraft. All affected passengers were treated and have now been released,” said Majid Al Mualla, the airline’s senior vice president-commercial operations for West Asia and Indian Ocean region.

The DGCA has sent a team of experts from New Delhi to Kochi for investigation.
An airpocket is a downward air current that causes an aircraft to lose altitude abruptly.

It is a localised region of low air density or a descending air current, causing an aircraft to suffer an abrupt decrease in height and the pilot can sense this from 100 meters on his weather radar and warn the passengers.

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