Aviation occurrence briefs

Cabin crew injury during turbulence involving an Airbus A320-232, near Cairns, Qld on 22 March 2018

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On 22 March 2018, an Airbus A320-232 was on descent into Cairns, Queensland (Qld) when it encountered severe turbulence. A cabin crew member in the rear of the aircraft sustained a broken ankle as a result.

The aircraft was flying in and out of cloud at the time of the occurrence and the pilot reported that the weather radar only showed green patches, indicating nil significant turbulence. The seat belt signs were therefore not illuminated.

The pilot reported that no turbulence was forecasted or expected. No encounters with turbulence had been reported prior to the occurrence.

Safety message

The ATSB research report Staying safe against in-flight turbulence (AR-2008-034) details that while turbulence is normal and occurs frequently, it can be dangerous. It is rarely a threat to passenger aircraft or to pilot control of the aircraft. In a typical turbulence incident, 99% of people on board receive no injuries. The report discusses what you can do to stay safe.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.

General details
Date: 22 March 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1130 EST    
Location   (show map): near Cairns    
State: Queensland    
Release Date: 31 August 2018   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus  
Aircraft model A320-232  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Last update 12 December 2018