FAA Reports Double the Turbulence Injuries in 2016

June 26, 2017
Abram I. Bohrer

The aviation accident lawyers at Bohrer & Lukeman are monitoring the increase in cases of turbulence-caused injuries following a report from the Federal Aviation Administration released April 19th, 2016 which recorded 44 serious injuries due to in-flight turbulence, more than twice the number reported in 2015. The airplane turbulence attorneys at Bohrer & Lukeman investigate.

Passenger injuries outnumbered those of crewmembers at a rate of 3 to 1, with 33 passengers and 11 crewmembers included in the total number of reported injuries. These injuries include a gashed face during a landing in Denver, Colorado; a spinal fracture en route to the Cayman Islands; and second-degree burns from scalding hot water during a flight to Barbados.

The FAA encourages passengers to follow directions from flight attendants as well as remain seated with their seat belts fastened for the duration of the flight. The organization also encourages the use of approved child-safety seats for infants under the age of 2.

The report also highlighted the risk of injury to crew members during instances of unexpected “clear air” turbulence, as attendants are often standing or walking around the cabin. Bob Ross, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, remarked that the report was a reminder of the dangers associated with the profession.

“The airplane cabin can be a dangerous work environment for flight attendants,” said Ross. “Clear-air turbulence is particularly problematic and a leading cause of flight attendant injuries. By its nature, it is difficult or impossible to predict. That is why we stress that passengers keep their seat belts on whenever they are seated and pay particular attention to crewmember instructions during all phases of flight.”

“The forces created in sudden clear air turbulence can throw bodies and unsecure items forcefully through the cabin much like the impact of a high speed collision. If you are not strapped in and secure, it could be deadly,” responded Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, in a similar statement.

A selection of the turbulence cases investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board in 2016 (in addition to the cases stated above) include an incident on January 15th on a Southwest Airlines flight from Providence to Fort Lauderdale, where a flight attendant fell and broke her ankle while securing the cabin; a July 26th flight to Cleveland aboard a United Airlines Embraer 170 where a flight attendant fell and broke her left tibia; and an August 11th JetBlue Airways flight from Boston to Sacramento where 24 passengers and 3 crewmembers suffered injuries in a storm above South Dakota.

Of the past 15 years, the lowest number of turbulence-related injuries recorded by the FAA was 12 in 2006; the highest was 107 in 2009.

New York aviation attorney Abe Bohrer commented on this recent report: “I often see injured airline passengers contact the airline on their own after a turbulence event and attempt to secure compensation without experienced aviation counsel. The airlines typically respond by telling the passenger, and sometimes a non-aviation lawyer, that the injuries were caused by clear air turbulence, and as such they are not responsible. In doing so, these same passengers typically give away information and facts to the airline that are damaging to their case. It is imperative that you have counsel who knows and understands the law. Do not try to contact the airline and negotiate a settlement on your own.”

Bohrer & Lukeman has represented passengers injured during the course of in-flight turbulence for over 20 years. We have successfully brought and won cases against many of the major airlines, and are recognized worldwide for our case Magan vs. Lufthansa, in which we fought for and won a landmark ruling for airline passengers injured by turbulence. Bohrer & Lukeman will continue to follow cases of injury and/or wrongful death related to turbulence and all other causes involved in aviation accidents. The New York-based law firm has successfully represented victims and their families in general and commercial plane accidents and crashes both domestically and internationally for over 25 years.

The FAA report can be found here: