20 injured after Hawaii bound flight encounters “severe turbulence”
December 18, 2022, 3:29 PM HST
* Updated December 18, 4:56 PM
Twenty people were injured including 13 people who were transported by ambulance to area hospitals after the flight they were on encountered “severe turbulence” shortly before arrival in Honolulu, Sunday, airline representatives said at an afternoon press conference that was live-streamed on the Hawaiʻi News Now website.
Hawaiian Airlines Flight 35 from Phoenix to Honolulu had 278 passengers and 10 crew members aboard the Airbus A330 aircraft, according to confirmation emailed to Maui Now on Sunday. The flight landed safely at 10:50 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2022.
According to the airline, several passengers and crewmembers were treated for minor injuries at the airport. At least 13 passengers were transported by ambulance to area hospitals. Among those injured were three crewmembers, according to airline representatives.
Patients requiring further care were transported to Straub, Pali Momi and The Queenʻs Medical Center. Injuries included lacerations, bumps and bruises, and at least one individual temporarily lost consciousness, according to information shared at the briefing.
Initial reports from various news outlets reported as many as 36 people were injured, but an afternoon update indicated that the number of hospitalizations was less, as those with nausea or motion sickness did not require transport.
Jim Ireland, Director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department said 11 individuals were triaged as serious and nine were triaged with minor injuries. In addition to the 13 people transported by ambulance, Ireland said seven individuals went by Honolulu City Bus to the hospital with minor injuries, and were accompanied by paramedics and medical staff.
“It seems at this moment that none of those guests that were transported to the hospital are in critical condition,” said Jon Snook, Chief Operating Officer for Hawaiian Airlines during the press briefing. “We certainly hope that they will make a speedy recovery.”
The airline reports it is supporting all affected passengers and employees.
A strong low pressure storm began making its way across the Hawaiian Islands on Sunday. It is unclear if the turbulence is tied to the inclement weather event.
Snook said the seatbelt sign was on at the time of the incident, and descent started shortly afterwards. “Weʻre obviously in a situation in the islands right now where weʻre dealing with a lot of unstable air and weather conditions that are certainly difficult to deal with if youʻre an airline,” he said.
According to Snook, there was “no warning of this particular patch of air at that altitude was in any way dangerous.”
In addition to the turbulence incident on Oʻahu, there were three diversions on Sunday due to low-visibility on Maui because of inclement weather. Those flights included two trans-Pacific and one neighbor island flight bound for the Valley Isle.
*This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.