17 passengers hurt by turbulence near Dublin Airport

Seventeen people were injured while the jet they were travelling on sustained significant damage when it entered turbulence shortly before landing in Dublin.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) has published its synoptic report into the serious incident that occurred on October 20, 2013, while the flight was on approach to Dublin.

An investigation was immediately launched, headed by the AAIU’s chief inspector of air accidents Jurgen Whyte, who was assisted by inspectors John Owens and Howard Hughes.

There were 131 passengers and a crew of eight on board United Airlines flight UA-23 from Newark (US) to Dublin when the Boeing 757-200 jet encountered “turbulent atmospheric conditions”.

The flight crew noted the presence of St Elmo’s Fire, a phenomenon where a visible electrical discharge is seen when an aircraft flies through a heavily electrostatically charged atmosphere.

At the time, the aircraft was about 80 nautical miles (148km) southwest of Dublin.

According the AAIU report: “As the turbulence eased, the Co-Pilot noticed that the indicated airspeed, as presented on his instruments, was reading low. Fearing that the turbulence had caused the aircraft to lose airspeed which could lead to a stall, the Co-Pilot applied forward force on the control column to pitch the aircraft down, and increased engine thrust.”

Following this manoeuvre, the co-pilot reported that the airspeed as indicated on his instruments began to recover, before reducing again. Consequently, the co-pilot repeated the pitch down manoeuvre.

The crew told air traffic controllers that they had experienced some turbulence and requested medical assistance and airport emergency services to be standing by. The aircraft landed at 5.22am without further incident.

The aircraft was found to have sustained damage to the centre hydraulic system service bay and ceiling panels in the cabin as a result of the occurrence.

Immediately following the event, eight passengers and two flight attendants reported minor injuries as a result of having come into contact with various parts of the aircraft’s internal structure. They were attended to, on scene, by the airport fire and ambulance service personnel. One passenger was treated in hospital and later released.

In total, 13 passengers and four cabin crew staff were reported to have suffered minor injuries in the incident.


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