Aviation safety investigations & reports

Severe turbulence involving Airbus A330, B-5921, near Sydney, NSW, on 29 November 2016

Investigation number:
AO-2016-165
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On 28 November 2016, at about 1656 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), a China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-243, registered B-5821, operating flight MU-777, departed Kunming, China, for Sydney, New South Wales. On board were 14 crew and 213 passengers.

The flight crew descended from flight level (FL) 370, advised cabin crew of the descent, and illuminated the seatbelt signs. The cabin crew manager announced to the passengers the descent into Sydney and to fasten their seatbelts as the seat belt sign was illuminated. The cabin crew checked whether the passengers fastened their seatbelts.

During descent, the flight crew diverted 5 NM from the flight route due to thunderstorms. Once clear, they received instructions to descend via waypoint BOREE.

At FL 230, about ten minutes after the seatbelt sign was illuminated, the aircraft experienced severe turbulence lasting about 30 seconds. The flight crew commenced the turbulence checklist following the quick reference handbook. As the turbulence had stopped and the flight instruments and engine indications were normal, the flight continued to Sydney.

Prior to the turbulence, the cabin crew manager was at the back of the cabin checking seatbelts. They observed four passengers without seatbelts. One passenger was standing and reaching for their baggage. During the turbulence, the cabin crew manager struck their back on an armrest. A cabin crewmember fell to the ground. Two passengers without seatbelts struck their heads on the ceiling.

After landing, a cabin crewmember informed the flight crew there were eleven people injured. They sustained head, neck, hand, back, and abdominal injuries. The aircraft sustained minor damage to the interior cabin above rows 42, 64, 65, and 68.

This incident is a reminder of the importance of fastening seatbelts when the seatbelt sign is illuminated and to listen to cabin crew instructions to minimise the chance of injury.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 58

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General details
Date: 29 November 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 13:45 ESuT    
Location   (show map): near Sydney Airport   Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation  
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Turbulence/windshear/microburst  
Release date: 24 March 2017   Occurrence class: Environment  
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Incident  
  Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus  
Aircraft model A330-243  
Aircraft registration B-5921  
Serial number 1402  
Operator China Eastern Yunnan Airlines  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point Kunming, China  
Destination Sydney, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018