An Aeroflot Boeing B777 on its way to Bangkok, Thailand, hit clear air turbulence without warning and 27 people were injured, with 17 still in hospital care. Fortunately, there were no fatalities and none are in serious condition, but several had broken bones! Images and video show the plane looked like a war zone, with unconscious passengers in the aisles, overturned serving carts, broken bottles and food strewn across the floor! Aeroflot flight SU270 flying from Moscow was only 40 minutes from landing in Bangkok when they encountered clear air turbulence. Most of the time crew can warn passengers of expected turbulence visible on weather radar or by clouds. Clear air turbulence on the other hand is caused by air masses of vastly different speeds meeting without any clouds as indication. It happens most frequently in the regions of jet streams at altitudes of 7,000-12,000m – where airplanes frequently travel! While the turbulence at that altitude is very unlikely to endanger a modern airliner, the violent motion can be very scary for passengers and dangerous for anybody not wearing seat belts!
Passengers not wearing seat belts on Aeroflot flight SU270 were thrown up into the ceiling and around the cabin, causing injuries and broken bones. Initial reports of even more serious spine compression injuries were thankfully not confirmed. Service carts, glasses, plates and bottles were also throwing around the cabin, causing further injuries!
This tragic event is a sad reminder to always wear your seatbelt on the plane, even when the seatbelt light is off! Typically pilots will remind passengers that they themselves wear their seatbelt during flight for that very reason. As a sport pilot with a paraglider, I was thrown around like a cork in the air and felt the power of nature, even when you can’t see it, and always wear my seatbelt myself! I encourage you to do the same, for your own safety and the safety of the people around you: Wear your seatbelt loosely fastened whenever you are seated, even when sleeping, and don’t linger in the aisles unnecessarily – you never know when nature strikes!
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