An Emirates Airlines flight from Dubai to Kochi, carrying 350 passengers and 14 crew, had a miraculous escape after it dropped several thousand feet abruptly after hitting an air pocket at 25,000 feet, a Kochi airport official said.
The plane eventually regained control and made an emergency landing at the Kochi international airport on Sunday morning.
When the plane tilted while losing height, 18 passengers were injured when many of them were thrown out of their seats and some hit their heads on hand-baggage compartments and the roof of the plane. The mishap took place when the aircraft, a Boeing 777-200, was preparing to descend for landing.
“The captain requested medical support to meet the aircraft. All affected passengers were given medical aid and have been released,” said Majid Al Mualla, senior vice-president (operations) of Emirates Airlines in a statement.
Heavily bandaged, some passengers broke down on their arrival. “It was a nightmare. For about five minutes, the plane tilted dangerously, throwing passengers upside down. Some of them started shouting for help. Even crew members were frightened,” said injured passenger Elssy George, adding that when the plane landed safely many passengers praised the pilot’s presence of mind.
The Director General of Civil Aviation has ordered an inquiry and rushed a team to Kochi. The aircraft, which suffered minor damages, was grounded till it gets an airworthiness certificate from the DGCA.