MONTREAL: Shocked passengers described being tossed around in an Air Canada passenger jet as it hit a pocket of turbulence on its way to Australia on Thursday (Jul 11), and was forced to make an emergency landing.
Flight AC33, carrying 269 passengers and 15 crew, was flying from Vancouver to Sydney, Australia, when the Boeing 777 aircraft "encountered unforecasted and sudden turbulence approximately two hours past Hawaii," the carrier said.
The plane was diverted to Honolulu and landed at 6.45am (12.45am Friday, Singapore time).
The passengers were taken to hospital and nine of them suffered "serious" injuries, local media reported, citing Hawaiian officials.
All customers except one had now left the hospital, while the remaining person was also expected to be released, a spokesperson for Air Canada said later on Thursday.
"(The plane) must've dropped about 100 feet or something because we all went up to the ceiling like throughout the plane," one report quoted a passenger as saying.
"The seat in front of me, the girl hit the plastic overhead and actually snapped and broke it, and the oxygen masks came down, and a lot of panic," the passenger, Michael Bailey, told Hawaii News Now.
The carrier's initial reports were of 25 people with minor injuries. Medical personnel were on standby to examine passengers in Honolulu, Air Canada said earlier.
Passenger Jess Smith, told the local television station KHON that "we all hit the roof, and everything fell down ... people went flying".
The aircraft suddenly dropped, and "some people that weren't strapped in, you saw them rise in the air and hit their heads on the roof ... it was quite intense", another traveller, Fais Asad, said to KHON.
A spokesperson from the Federal Aviation Administration quoted by Canadian broadcaster CBC said the incident took place at 10,973m, about 966km southwest of Honolulu.
Air Canada was arranging hotels and food for passengers in Honolulu and looking at resuming the flight, the statement said.
A case of severe turbulence in June on a flight from Kosovo to France was captured on video, showing a flight attendant hitting the ceiling and another praying.
In another case, 29 people were injured after a Turkish Airlines flight encountered severe turbulence on its approach to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in March.