Emergency lands for American Airlines after 8 injuries due to disturbances
Six passengers and two flight attendants were injured Wednesday after an American Airlines regional flight between Florida and Tennessee experienced “unexpected disruption,” airline officials said.
On July 20 at 14:36 EST, American Eagle Flight 3609, operated by Envoy Air, took off from Tampa with 52 passengers and four crew on board, bound for Nashville. The flight was operated by an Embraer ERJ-175, registered N270NN.
About an hour into the flight, while in FL370, the plane experienced severe turbulence lasting about thirty seconds, causing injuries to several passengers and crew as they wandered into the cabin.
“Everything was smooth and I think that’s why it was such a surprise because all of a sudden we hit a bumpy spot, and what started out as flimsy quickly turned into something much more important,” Passenger Brad Tice told local media.
Tice recounted his experience, and noted that an injured flight attendant in first class was left with blood on her face after hitting something during the accident.
At least seven passengers were taken to nearby hospitals, and injuries ranged from general anxiety to minor head trauma. Photo: Getty Images
“Anyone who doesn’t have a seat belt, hits the ceiling. The guy behind me broke the plastic in the roof vents because he hit hard,” He said.
After speaking to air traffic control, the flight deck crew chose to divert to Birmingham, Alabama, about 80 nautical miles south of their current direction, citing a medical emergency.
The plane landed safely on runway 24 about 20 minutes after the accident, and at least seven of the injured were taken to hospitals with neck and back injuries.
The Birmingham fire brigade confirmed that there were no serious injuries to anyone on board, with only minor injuries including anxiety, a bloody nose and some head injuries, according to chief firefighter Sebastian Carrillo.
Tice praised the actions of the crew on board for their quick decision, adding: “It wouldn’t stop me from flying. If anything, it reassured me of the safety of flight and the durability of the aircraft.”
In June 2021, another American Airlines flight experienced severe turbulence, diverting the flight to New Orleans. With one serious injury reported, the National Transportation Safety Board classified it as an accident. Photo: Lucas Souza | simple flight
A replacement ERJ-175, registered N203NN, flew passengers to Nashville about six hours later, and the flight finally reached its destination at 21:07 DST.
The N270NN stayed at Birmingham Airport for 20 hours, and was back in service for a flight to Dallas the next morning. The accident is currently under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Although it is an uncomfortable experience, the disturbance is usually harmless. Incidents like Wednesday are exceptionally rare, although they highlight the importance of wearing a seat belt during a flight, even when seated.
In June last year, another American Airlines flight between Dallas and Tampa faced severe disruption, diverting the flight to New Orleans. Passengers on Flight 2401, operated by an Airbus A321-200, experienced significant altitude deviations of more than 150 feet, causing minor injuries to ten passengers and serious injury reported by a crew member. The National Transportation Safety Board classified the accident as an accident after an investigation.
Did the crew of American Eagle 3609 handle Wednesday’s incident well? Did you experience severe disturbances during the flight? Let us know in the comments.
Sources: Aviation Herald, AIRLIVE, WBRC