Updated at 19.30 with comment from a passenger on the flight.
Additional reporting by Victoria Scott
Some 40 passengers on board a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Manila yesterday, Sept. 5, were reportedly injured when the aircraft landed amid turbulence.
The QR932 flight, which left Hamad International Airport at 1:40am yesterday, was approaching Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 3pm local time (10am in Qatar) when it “experienced downdraft and affected passengers who were not wearing a seatbelt”, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines told news site Interaksyon.
Some 20 minutes later, the pilot of the Boeing 777 aircraft requested priority landing from Manila tower citing the injured passengers, the site added.
Three children and two flight attendants were among those who sustained injuries, which mostly involved abrasions, the Manila International Airport Authority told Inquirer.
However, one passenger on the flight said the incident happened earlier, around an hour before the aircraft was due to land.
She said on Twitter that the pilot had just told passengers to start preparing for the descent, and as a result many had taken off their seat belts to get themselves organized.
She had been waiting in the queue for the toilet at the time of the incident, and previous to that, the flight had been very smooth, she added.
“I flew up and dropped down good,” she continued, describing what happened to her. She said she later received medical treatment for high blood pressure.
A passenger who was waiting for a flight from Manila to Qatar, told Doha News he saw people coming off of the affected aircraft on wheelchairs.
Passengers were met at the airport gate by medics with first aid kits and at least one small oxygen tank, he said.
— Ted Regencia تِد (@tedregencia) September 6, 2015
Meanwhile, the return flight to Doha was delayed by three hours as airport authorities in Manila issued a thunderstorm warning.
In a statement to Doha News, the airline confirmed the incident and said:
“Of those reporting injury, three were sent to the hospital for further evaluation. They were discharged last night after being provided the necessary medical assistance.
The safety and well-being of all passengers and crew is our top priority. We remain in touch with affected passengers and crew, and are ready to provide any further assistance required.”
In June, Qatar Airways announced it was adding six flights a week to its route between Doha and Manila, bringing the total weekly number of flights to Ninoy Aquino airport to 15.
The national carrier, which also operates seven flights weekly between Doha and Clark International Airport, has seen increasing competition after low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific Air began offering direct flights between Doha and Manila this summer.
Turbulence can be caused by different weather and air conditions, and ranges in severity.
Light turbulence is classified as when an aircraft varies just a few feet in altitude; medium causes drinks to spill and the altitude to change around 20ft; and severe turbulence is “extremely rare,” according to British Airways’ training captain Steve Allright.
“In a flying career of over 10,000 hours, I have experienced severe turbulence for about five minutes in total. It is extremely uncomfortable but not dangerous,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
Were you on the affected flight? Thoughts?