Twelve passengers injured during turbulence on Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Dublin

Twelve passengers have been injured during turbulence on a flight from Doha to Dublin, claimed to have caused some people on board to hit the cabin ceiling.

Dublin Airport said six passengers and six crew reported injuries during the Qatar Airways flight which landed safely as scheduled shortly before 1pm on Sunday.

“Upon landing, the aircraft was met by emergency services, including Airport Police and our Fire and Rescue department, due to 6 passengers and 6 crew [12 total] on board reporting injuries after the aircraft experienced turbulence while airborne over Turkey,” a statement on the airport’s official X account said.

“The Dublin Airport team continues to provide full assistance on the ground to passengers and airline staff.”

All passengers were assessed for injury before disembarking the aircraft, with eight passengers subsequently taken to hospital, airport officials said. The return flight to Doha (flight QR018) was scheduled to operate as normal on Sunday afternoon, albeit with a delay.

Qatar Airways said “a small number of passengers and crew sustained minor injuries in flight and are now receiving medical attention”, adding: “The matter is now subject to an internal investigation.”

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One of the passengers on the flight, Paul Mocc told Irish broadcaster RTE that he saw people “hitting the roof” and food and drink going everywhere. He said he saw crew members limping around afterward with bandages on but he said they did a really good job of continuing the flight service.

The latest incident comes days after a British man was killed on a violently turbulent flight from Heathrow to Singapore.

Geoffrey Kitchen, a father-of-two and theatre director taking a “last big holiday” with his wife, died from a suspected heart attack. Fifty other people were injured after unbuckled passengers hit the cabin ceiling while the plane dropped 6,000ft in a matter of minutes.

Geoffrey Kitchen was described as ‘always a gentleman with the utmost honesty and integrity’ (Facebook)
Geoffrey Kitchen was described as ‘always a gentleman with the utmost honesty and integrity’ (Facebook)

Singapore Airlines said that flight encountered “sudden extreme turbulence” around 10 hours after departure while flying over Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet, with the ensuing chaos causing the pilot to declare a medical emergency and landing in Bankok some 90 minutes short of its intended destination.

Tracking website Flightradar24 said data sent from the aircraft showed a “rapid change in vertical rate, consistent with a sudden turbulence event”, adding that there were “some severe” thunderstorms in the area at the time.

Clear air turbulence is described by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as “sudden severe turbulence occurring in cloudless regions that causes violent buffeting of aircraft” which “is especially troublesome because it is often encountered unexpectedly and frequently without visual clues to warn pilots of the hazard”.

It is rare for turbulence to cause injuries on flights – and even rarer for passengers to lose their lives as a result. One study suggests aircraft encounter severe clear air turbulence at least 790 times a year, which equates to around once every 11 hours.

“Aircraft are designed to cope with any turbulence that nature can throw at them and I can’t recall any modern airliner crashing due to turbulence,” flight safety specialist Steve Landells previously wrote for the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa).

“The injuries we see tend to occur when people aren’t strapped in. This may be because the turbulence is encountered without warning but we also see quite a lot of people hurt because they don’t obey the “fasten seat belt” instructions.

“So, even if the signs aren’t on, always have your seatbelt done up when you are sitting down and don’t be tempted to get up when the captain has told you to strap in.”

However, climate researchers warn that growing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere could increase hazardous turbulence, with the incidence at one typical point over the North Atlantic found in one study to have increased by 55 per cent between 1979 and 2020.

According to Dr Paul Williams, of the University of Reading, a doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels could see clear air turbulence become twice or even three times more common than it is today – with an average of five serious cases a day.