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Seven people were injured on Wednesday night when a Lufthansa flight from Austin to Frankfurt, Germany, had to be redirected to Dulles International Airport due to extreme turbulence, according to authorities.
In a statement obtained by The Epoch Times, a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokesperson said Lufthansa Flight 469 experienced “significant turbulence” leading to the diversion to Dulles in Virginia.
The Airbus A330, a codeshare with United Airlines, landed safely at Dulles around 9.12 p.m. local time. Upon arrival, the authorities took seven people to local hospitals.
The Federal Aviation Administration has reported that the crew reported encountering severe turbulence at around 37,000 feet while flying over Tennessee. The agency is currently conducting an investigation into the incident.
An anonymous passenger reportedly told The Washington Post that during the turbulence, the aircraft went into a “free fall” during dinner service, causing food to go airborne and damage the ceiling.
The passenger also said they witnessed other passengers being “badly hurt,” with one person needing a wheelchair to disembark upon arrival at Dulles.
The person requested to remain anonymous, reportedly out of fear that speaking out might negatively affect their compensation claim.
The Epoch Times has contacted both Lufthansa and the FAA for comment.
FAA Investigating Recent Close Calls
The FAA is investigating a series of close calls in the skies, and has issued a “safety call to action” due to several similar concerning incidents.
One incident involved a business jet that took off without clearance at Boston Logan International Airport on Feb. 27, causing an incoming JetBlue flight to abort its landing and go around.
According to the FAA, an air traffic controller had asked the pilot of the Learjet 60 to line up and wait on Runway 9 while JetBlue Flight 206 landed on Runway 4-Right that intersects Runway 9. However, the pilot of the Learjet flight took off despite not getting the clearance.
The other near-miss occurred at California’s Hollywood Burbank Airport, where a Mesa Airlines regional jet had to go around after a SkyWest flight was cleared for takeoff, and the two planes were alarmingly close to each other for several seconds.
In both cases, the planes’ collision avoidance systems played a role in preventing a potential disaster.
In January, a Delta Air Lines flight at New York’s JFK Airport was forced to abort its takeoff after an American Airline flight crossed the same runway even though it had no clearance for such a move. The two planes are said to have come within 1,400 feet of each other.
At the Honolulu International Airport in the same month, a Cessna flight and a United Airlines craft came around 1,170 feet from each other. The United Airlines flight crossed a runway without clearance from air traffic control.
The FAA announced a new regulation on Feb. 16 to improve airport safety. The rule mandates that certain airports must create a safety management system (SMS) to detect and address safety issues before they lead to accidents or incidents.
The rule applies to more than 200 of the busiest commercial airports in the United States.
Naveen Anthruppully contributed to this report.