CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Eight passengers and two crew members were injured on Thursday after an Air Canada jet bucked in midair on a flight across Canada, forcing the pilots to make an emergency landing in Calgary.
Those hurt in what was described as sharp drops in altitude and violent rocking were rushed to Calgary hospitals, where their injuries were deemed to be non-life-threatening. Others were treated and released.
“It happened very fast,” a female passenger in the plane’s front cabin told CBC Television.
“One side of the plane just went up a little bit sideways and then it just sort of went back down. And our friend was really hurt ... she flew up and hit the ceiling and (came) right back down.”
Flight AC190, an Airbus A319 with 83 passengers and five crew aboard, was en route to Toronto from Victoria, British Columbia, when the plane jolted and rocked above the Rocky Mountains, throwing some passengers out of their seats. Severe air turbulence is suspected.
The plane made the unscheduled landing at 8:30 a.m. local time at Calgary International Airport, where 11 ambulances and more than 20 firefighting vehicles were waiting.
An emergency medical services spokesman said six injured passengers were taken from the plane on stretchers.
Ten people were taken to local hospitals, including two crew. Six people were initially listed as seriously injured but by late afternoon the Calgary Health Region said all but one of the 10 had been released from hospital with the final patient expected to be discharged soon.
“None of the patients received any life-threatening injuries. Most of the injuries are the soft tissue, orthopedic, minor type,” Rob Abernethy, Calgary’s associate chief medical officer, told reporters outside one of three hospitals where the injured were sent.
“These are mostly musculoskeletal injuries one would normally see if someone was bounced around or having fallen,” he said.
Air Canada, the country’s largest airline, confirmed there had been “an incident” aboard the flight, but officials would not comment on the cause.
Air Canada Vice-President Duncan Dee told reporters in Ottawa that the airline will co-operate with a federal investigation into the incident and conduct its own review.
Turbulence is a frequent cause of injuries for airline passengers. Nine people were hurt in September when a WestJet Airlines flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia, from Calgary hit a rough spot about 40 minutes before landing.
In August, 18 passengers on an Air Mauritius flight to Hong Kong were injured after the Airbus A343 encountered turbulence.
Air Canada’s class B shares fell 11 Canadian cents to C$11.43 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
(For a route map from Flightaware, a web site that tracks flights, showing how AC190 suddenly veered north for its emergency landing in Calgary, please click here)
Additional reporting by Lynne Olver, David Ljunggren, Allan Dowd and Natalie Armstrong, writing by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson