At least 30 people injured as turbulence hits Boeing Dreamliner

At least 30 people have been injured after a Boeing Dreamliner flight hit heavy turbulence in the early hours of Monday morning after leaving Madrid.

The Air Europa flight, which was transporting 325 passengers to Montevideo in Uruguay, was forced to land in Natal, Brazil.

Health authorities in Rio Grande do Norte state, where the city of Natal is located, said 30 passengers had been taken to hospitals with minor abrasions or orthopaedic traumas.

Air Europa said seven passengers were treated for injuries of varying degrees and an undetermined number of other people on board suffered minor bruises.

The airline said that after “strong turbulence”, the plane diverted to Brazil for safety reasons.

'Several people injured on Air Europa flight UX045 from Madrid to Montevideo. It had to make an emergency landing in Natal, Brazil. Firefighters and medical emergencies are assisting. #aireuropa' Image taken from Twitter, with permission
Footage appearing to show damage to a seat on the plane after it was hit by heavy turbulence (Photo: X/@pichipastoso)

“The company thanks the local authorities for their quick intervention and assistance,” Air Europa said.

The airline added that the 787-9 plane will undergo inspection so that technicians can determine the extent of the damage.

Footage shared on social media appears to show damaged cabin luggage racks and a broken seat on the plane after the incident.

Air Europa said it was sending another aircraft from Madrid on Monday to pick up all affected passengers and complete the trip to Uruguay.

Zurich Airport Brasil (ZAB), which manages the terminal at Natal’s airport, reported that the aircraft landed at 2.32am local time after requesting an emergency landing.

United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft as seen on final approach flying and landing at Athens International Airport, the Greek capital arriving from Washington Dulles IAD in the United States of America as flight UA982. The modern and advanced wide body passenger airplane, Boeing 787-8 has the registration - tail number N26910 and is powered by 2x GE jet engines. United Airlines UA UAL is the third largest airline carrier in the world by fleet and routes, member of Star Alliance aviation group with headquarters in Willis Tower in Chicago, USA with the largest hub in Chicago-O'Hare ORD airport. Athens, Greece on July 2023 (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft (File photo: NurPhoto via Getty)

A spokesperson for ZAB said: “The service protocols for this type of incident were activated. Passengers who required medical attention were taken by ambulance to health units.”

The exact time and location of where the plane encountered turbulence has not been confirmed.

The aircraft was reportedly met at the airport by firefighters and medical emergency workers, the Aviation Source website reported.

According to flight data analysed by Radarbox, the plane left Madrid International Airport at 12.26am local time on Monday, before setting course for its long-haul service to Uruguay, and climbing to 35,000 feet.

Analysis found that after turbulence hit the jet, its crew did not declare a formal emergency and the plane headed to Brazil, where it landed.

The incident comes after a British man died and at least 30 were injured in May when a flight from London to Singapore was hit by severe turbulence and suddenly plunged several thousand feet.

Geoffrey Ralph Kitchen, a 73-year-old musical theatre director from Gloucestershire, suffered a suspected heart attack after the plane embarked on a “dramatic drop”, which resulted in those not wearing seat belts being “launched immediately into the ceiling”.

Mr Kitchen, who has two adult children and two grandchildren, was travelling with his wife of more than 50 years.