Officials said a Lufthansa plane developed severe problems and was diverted to Washington Dulles International Airport and seven people on board were taken to area hospitals. Michael Cabbage, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said Flight 469 from Austin, Texas, was headed to Frankfurt, Germany, but landed safely at the airport in Virginia on Wednesday evening.
Cabbage said crew responded to the flight and took seven people to the hospital with minor injuries.
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The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the Airbus A330 reported severe turbulence at an altitude of 37,000 feet (about 11,300 meters) while flying over Tennessee. The agency is investigating.
Passenger Susan Zimmerman, 34, of Austin, Texas, said one of the pilots told the cabin that the plane had dropped about 1,000 feet (about 305 meters) during the sudden event.
She said in a phone interview, “It felt like being knocked down from the bottom.” “Everything was floating. For a moment, you’re weightless.
About 90 minutes after take-off, Lufthansa said in a statement, there was brief but severe turbulence and an unscheduled landing was made as a precaution. The airline said that after landing, the affected passengers were given medical attention and Lufthansa ground staff were working to book passengers.
“The safety and well-being of passengers and crew members is Lufthansa’s top priority at all times,” the statement said.
Remains a leading cause of turbulence and injuries during flight according to 2021 NTSB report. Turbulence accounted for 37.6% of all accidents on large commercial airlines between 2009 and 2018.
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Turbulence is essentially unsteady air that moves unpredictably. Most people associate it with heavy storms. But the most dangerous type is a clear-air disturbance, which can be difficult to predict and often has no visual warning in the sky ahead.
Scott Unger, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Nashville, said the storms moved into areas of Tennessee Wednesday night, bringing strong winds in the upper atmosphere.
“It was very windy, which could easily have created the potential for turbulence with any flight,” he said.
Zimmerman, who is five months pregnant, said the disturbance occurred midway through meal service and passengers and crew were moving throughout the cabin. She said she was still wearing her seat belt and that neither she nor her child was injured.
“I’m pretty sure she slept through it,” he said. “She’s surrounded in amniotic fluid.”