Just a day after a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu encountered extreme turbulence north of Maui on its approach to Oahu, resulting in 36 injuries, some which were serious and required hospitalization, a United Airlines 767 ran into the same issue. United Airlines Flight 128 with service from Rio de Janeiro to Houston on Monday hit severe turbulence which ended up sending 2 passengers and 3 crew members to the hospital upon landing at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Texas. According to the FAA, 4 crew and 15 passengers received minor injuries; those requiring hospitalization are expected to recover.
The airline released a statement: “United flight 128 encountered unexpected turbulence while enroute to Houston. Upon arrival, three crew members and two passengers were met by medical personnel and taken to a local hospital with minor injuries. We’re grateful to our crew for their efforts to ensure the safety of our employees and customers.”
It appears the incident happened as the plane was traveling over Cancun before moving over the Gulf of Mexico onto its final approach into Houston, Texas.
Flight tracking website FlightAware showed the path of the aircraft. The Boeing 767, which can have as many as 214 passengers on-board, flew across South and much of Central America without incident. Once it encountered air over Cancun, the violent episode transpired.
Beyond the severe turbulence that impacted the Hawaiian Airlines flight on Sunday, there have been other pockets of turbulence warned about by the National Weather Service’s Aviation Weather Center (AWC). Just last night, a SIGMET was issued for severe turbulence for air traffic flying over portions of the Ohio Valley.
A SIGMET, short for Significant Meteorological Information, is the severe weather advisory issued by the AWC which contains weather-related information concerning the safety of all aircraft passing through a specific zone. Sometimes AIRMETs are issued too; an AIRMET consists of turbulence, visibility, and icing-related warnings that are less severe than those in a SIGMET.