Flight attendants on an Air India flight from Riyadh to Mumbai on Sunday suffered injuries on their head, back and limbs after the Boeing 777-300 suddenly hit turbulence close to the final approach and the commander allegedly forgot to alert the crew to take their seats before making touchdown, according to the airline’s cabin crew union.
Although the 280 passengers travelling on board the flight (AI 922) escaped unhurt, the sudden drop in altitude and subsequent touchdown caught flight attendants unawares and injured five of them, said sources.
The standard operating procedure states that pilots are supposed to make announcements when an aircraft is nearing turbulence and warn the crew to take their seats closer to touchdown. Neither procedure was allegedly followed on board the flight. “The cabin crew is supposed to inspect the entire cabin after the sign for fastening seat belts is switched on for passengers. As soon as the inspection is over, the pilot directs them to take their seats before preparing for touchdown. In this case, the mandatory procedures were not followed,” said a senior AI official, requesting anonymity.
An AI spokesperson, however, said only one flight attendant was injured in the incident because the person was not seated despite all mandatory warnings being issued by the pilots. “One cabin crew suffered minor injuries because the plane hit a bump mid-air,” said the spokesperson, adding that the incident was ‘minor’ and that the rest of the crew was not aware of it.
However, an injured flight attendant’s medical report accessed by HT showed that three cabin staffers, including two witnesses and the cabin crew in-charge, had signed the personal injury report. The report added that the cabin crew members had suffered injuries on the back, left elbow, right knee, right hand and right ankle.
The airline spokesperson said the crew did not report the matter to the aviation safety regulator because it was a ‘minor incident’. According to rules laid down by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), any incident of passengers or crew getting hurt should be reported to the safety regulator. “No airline can decide for themselves whether an incident is major or minor. The directives are clearly spelt out. It is mandatory to inform us,” said a senior DGCA official, requesting anonymity.