A Delta Air Lines flight from Milan to Atlanta was hit by severe turbulence on Tuesday, sending eleven people to the hospital, the airline has confirmed.
Delta flight DL175 departed Milan’s Malpensa Airport more than three hours late on August 29 for the 10-hour flight to Georgia. The three-year-old Airbus A350-900 aircraft was shaken by severe turbulence as it crossed the Atlantic and had to be met by emergency personnel on arrival.
A Delta spokesperson confirmed that 151 passengers, along with four pilots and 10 flight attendants, were onboard the aircraft. Atlanta Hartsfield Airport said eleven people were sent to the hospital, although none of the injuries are believed to be serious.
It’s not known whether the seat belt signs were already on when the turbulence struck or how much warning the pilots had before the incident.
A new study by scientists at the University of Reading in the UK suggests we should expect more severe turbulence events in the future due to climate change.
The scientists looked at the effect that climate change could have on ‘clear air’ turbulence – air pockets that are hard to detect and which can cause planes to suddenly drop without warning.
The study concluded that in just one spot in the North Atlantic, the annual duration of severe turbulence increased by 55% from 17.7 hours in 1979 to 27.4 hours in 2020.
Moderate turbulence also increased by 37%, and light turbulence increased by 17%. The cause was attributed to warmer air disrupting the jet streams, which can cause these unusual air pockets to develop.
Traditional radar systems can’t detect clear air turbulence, and pilots normally have to rely on reports from other aircraft that have just flown through an area of turbulence.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Delta noted: “Our priority is taking care of our customers and crew who sustained injuries.”
“We are grateful for the first responders who met the aircraft to provide medical attention and who are transporting the injured to the hospital.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.