In aviation, sudden atmospheric changes can both cause travel delays and risk the safety of people aboard an aircraft. A single commercial plane can carry many people in a single flight and accidents can happen anytime between boarding and landing.
Passengers of a United Airlines Boeing 737 airplane headed to Billings, Montana, were left shaken after violent turbulence hit the flight, leaving some passengers and crew members injured. The plane was descending from 34,000 feet when it suddenly shook up and down, then left and right. A passenger stated that there was a loud bang after the aircraft plunged violently during the episode.
Three crew members and two passengers were hurt. One of the plane's female crew members was still in the hospital with critical injuries at last report.
Federal safety investigators were reviewing the incident. The extent of damages and injuries will determine whether a full-scale investigation is needed.
Turbulence is a sudden atmospheric disruption created by weather events such as thunderstorms, wind blowing around mountains and cold or warm fronts. Turbulence can happen even in clear skies. Data from the Federal Aviation Administration collected over the last decade show that on average, about 33 people -- mostly crew members but also passengers -- suffer injuries due to turbulence each year.
Transporting passengers safely is the top concern of commercial pilots and carriers. An aviation accident rarely occurs, but when it does, it can result in multiple serious or even fatal injuries. In this case, although the plane did not crash, the accident did cause fear and trauma. Additionally, the result of the ongoing investigation is critical to determine if the pilot or the carrier failed to exercise caution. If pilot error or a negligent commercial carrier contributed to an airplane accident, the victims can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party.