Eight people were rushed to hospital after a JetBlue Airbus A320 was hit by severe turbulence while flying between Ecuador and the United States (US).
Flight 1256 left José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) late on September 24, 2023, but while flying near Jamacia an outbreak of turbulence injured seven passengers and one crewmember.
The A320 eventually landed safely at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) in Florida on September 25, 2023, just before 5:30 am local time.
The plane was met by emergency responders who transported the injured to hospital where they were assessed by medical staff.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed that it will investigate the incident. The aircraft has temporarily been taken out of service.
“NTSB has opened an investigation into today’s turbulence incident that occurred on JetBlue #1256, an Airbus A320, during cruise flight near Jamaica while on route from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Numerous injuries reported,” the NTSB said in a statement.
JetBlue said in a statement that the aircraft “experienced sudden severe turbulence as it neared Florida” and that it is “supporting our customers and crew members”.
The incident follows a similar event on a transatlantic Delta Air Lines in August 2023, when 17 passengers were injured due to severe turbulence.
In a preliminary report the NTSB claimed that pilots requested a deviation from a typical approach after they “identified a weather radar return about 40 miles ahead”.
The controller asked the crew to continue on the “OZZZI [approach] before deviating north and the flight crew accepted this instruction noting only a small white cloud near OZZZI”.
“The flight crew stated there were no [Pilot Report (PIREP)] from preceding aircraft, no nearby weather radar returns, nor any significant turbulence indications on their Flight Weather Viewer application,” the NTSB’s report added.