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Summary

Summary

The flight attendant was preparing the cabin for landing when an area of severe air turbulence was encountered, causing the flight attendant to strike his head on the cabin roof. He received minor injuries, and was relieved from further duty that day. The flight attendant has since returned to flight duties.

During the investigation, it was revealed that after striking his head, the flight attendant was unable to occupy a nearby spare aisle seat during the turbulence encounter, as another passenger's hand luggage had been secured to the seat with the seat belt. The flight attendant returned to his seat at the front of the aircraft. It was further revealed that it was common company practice to secure passenger cabin baggage on spare passenger seats due to the problem of stowage on smaller aircraft types.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulations required cabin baggage to be stowed securely so that movement of cabin baggage would not cause injury to any person or damage to the aircraft, during turbulence or unusual aircraft accelerations or manoeuvres. The regulations also required that cabin baggage be stowed whenever the seat belt sign was on, and specified that luggage be stowed under a passenger seat with approved forward-movement restraint, or in an approved overhead locker or rack (Civil Aviation Order 20.16.3, subsection 9).

Following the occurrence, the operator sought clarification of the regulation regarding the stowage of cabin baggage from CASA. CASA had initially agreed with the operator that soft bags could be stowed with a seat belt through the straps, on a window seat that was not an emergency exit.

The Bureau conveyed its concerns to CASA that seat belts were designed primarily to restrain the human form and that bag handles were not stressed to take loads that could occur under turbulent conditions or impact forces. Bags so secured on a passenger seat by a seat belt might become loose during turbulence or impact, or could swing about the seat belt, presenting injury or evacuation obstruction hazards.

 
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