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Extreme turbulence grounds Air Canada flight in Calgary

Twenty-one passengers sent to hospital following rough flight


(Canadian OH&S News) — An Air Canada flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Calgary on Dec. 30, due to a high level of air turbulence that had injured some passengers and risked the safety of the crew as well.

Flight AC088, a Boeing 777-300ER carrying 332 passengers and 19 crew members, was on its way to Toronto from Shanghai when it hit extreme turbulence, a series of news releases from the airline confirmed. The flight was diverted to an unscheduled stop at Calgary International Airport, landing there at 3:23 p.m. local time.

Upon the plane’s arrival, Air Canada teams immediately met with the crew and passengers, and medical personnel examined them for injuries. The airline stated that 21 passengers had been transported to a hospital, eight of them with non-life-threatening injuries and the other 13 for observation. Air Canada did not confirm whether any of the crew had been injured as well.

Following the incident, the airline issued a statement from its executive vice president and chief operating officer, Klaus Goersch, who acknowledged that the flight had been “a very unsettling experience” for all aboard.

“Safety is always our first priority, and so any incident involving the safety of our passengers and crew is of utmost concern,” said Goersch. “I would like to acknowledge the flight crew of AC088, whose care and professionalism has been recognized by other passengers, and I would like to thank our employees on the ground in Calgary and at other stations for their important contributions in response.

“I would also like to thank the various agencies in Calgary who responded to this incident quickly and professionally,” Goersch continued. “Their actions in helping us take care of our customers is deeply appreciated. We are grateful that the first passengers are already being released from hospital.”

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada announced in a press release that it had sent a team of investigators to the Calgary airport following the incident.

“Air Canada is cooperating fully with the Transportation Safety Board in its investigation of this incident,” the airline stated in one of its news releases about the landing.

Media reports have quoted Flight AC088 passengers describing the experience as a “flight from hell” and “crazy.” Passengers reportedly witnessed objects flying through the air and people being thrown from their seats and into walls as the plane vibrated and shook from the turbulence.

Air Canada made arrangements to accommodate passengers continuing to Toronto after the incident.