The news, investigations, and ongoing passenger concerns resulting from December’s Hawaiian Airlines mass casualty turbulence incident are not going away. The subject remains in everyone’s minds.
BOH editor Collin flew twice in the past week on Hawaiian to and from the mainland. He reported turbulence in both directions that was “more noticeable on the way back. There were those times when there was a big drop coming into Maui, where the plane felt weightless for a moment. I was definitely thinking about that flight from December, and I was glad to be strapped in,” he said. Collin also reported that the flight attendants were vigilant about their enforcement regarding seat belts on his flights.
As we previously reported, the plane was on approach to Honolulu and likely within 10 minutes of beginning its descent when the problem occurred. It is the time most likely, when safe, for passengers to use the lavatories one last time and to stow their cabin baggage.
The law firm has dripped this case to the media.
Seat belt enforcement wasn’t implemented. That simply was not done on this flight and that is what should’ve been done on this flight. And, if that had been done, then nobody would have been injured.” Nomaan Husain, attorney for victims.
The attorney said they are still performing additional research before filing the lawsuit. He was also quoted as saying, “If they were aware of it (the turbulence), then what did they do about it? Did they ask the airline if they could deviate from the flight path? Or, did they just decide that they were going to continue on the flight path that was prepared so that they would remain on schedule? We have clients with broken bones. We have clients with herniated discs. We have clients with neck injuries, and back injuries. We have clients with concussions, which have now been diagnosed as mild traumatic brain injury.”
Hawaiian Airlines facing the lawsuit. Who’s responsible?
At least a dozen passengers who were onboard that December flight are readying a lawsuit. Media reported that the passengers and their famous law firm believed that pilots didn’t heed warnings of the bad weather at the time when the turbulence struck.
In that incident, NTSB’s initially reported 25 passenger and crew injuries. That included six serious injuries and 20 in total, including an infant, taken to hospital in Honolulu.
Husain Law and Associates has been hired to represent the victims. That company specializes in aviation lawsuits and is involved in the deadly Boeing 737 MAX suits. The founding partner in the firm, Nomaan Husain, claims that the Hawaiian Airlines pilots should have been aware of the inclement weather conditions at the time and had passengers buckled in when it occurred.
Questions about Hawaiian Air HA35 turbulence event.
1. Did the National Weather Service properly warn aircraft in the area about the extreme wind conditions occurring on the ground and in the air? We can say that on the ground, the wind was far greater than what we had been warned about, and we were surprised to have planes taking off and landing in that. “It was the kind of gusts that knock you over,” said BOH editor Jeff.
2. To what degree was Hawaiian aware of the extreme weather that day? The following day, the company said it was aware of the weather forecast but had no specific warning as to extreme turbulence in that area.
3. Was the seatbelt sign illuminated at the time of the incident?
4. If the fasten seatbelt sign was on, was it being actively enforced by the cabin crew?
5. If the seatbelt sign was not on, had Hawaiian been made aware of any circumstances that would have warranted it being on?
What Hawaiian Air pilots reported to NTSB.
Hawaiian Air pilots on that flight reported to NTSB that conditions were smooth at the time, and they had no indication of severe weather on the plane’s radar. They said that a sudden and unavoidable vertical cloud arose directly in front of the A330 widebody, which did not provide any time to avoid the turbulence apparently associated with that cloud.
Hawaiian also said that no other aircraft in the area reported any such turbulence before the event.
Where was National Weather Service?
We cannot access historical information about whatever aircraft warning had been initiated by NWS. It was reported to NTSB that the NWS had, in fact, warned of severe thunderstorms and that a subsequent review of the NWS radar did indicate extreme turbulence in the vicinity of the incident.
Exactly what happened on Flight 35?
On December 18, Flight 35 encountered extreme clear-air turbulence as it approached Honolulu for landing, The turbulence and the associated drop in altitude was such that passengers not buckled in hit both the luggage bins and the ceiling. Subsequently, due to the scope of the injuries, the crew called for all trained medical or emergency-trained passengers to help.
The FAA says that turbulence is “air movement created by atmospheric pressure, jet streams, the air around mountains, cold or warm weather fronts or thunderstorms.” It can be completely unexpected and occur when the sky is totally clear. That notwithstanding, the FAA says that getting seriously injured in such events remains quite rare. In the 13 years ending 2021, there were only 146 severe injuries due to airline turbulence. That comes out to 11 total passengers per year.