One person died as a result of severe turbulence on a private business jet that was diverted to the Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, on Friday, according to aviation officials.
A Bombardier CL30 jet departing from Dillant-Hopkins Airport in Keene, New Hampshire, heading to Leesburg Executive Airport in Virginia was diverted to the Connecticut airport around 4 p.m. on Friday after “encountering severe turbulence,” the Federal Aviation Administration wrote in a statement to CNN.
That turbulence “resulted in fatal injuries” to one passenger, the National Transportation Safety Board wrote on Twitter.
Three passengers and two crew members were onboard the private jet, the NTSB wrote in a statement to CNN. The conditions of the other people are not known.
There was no impact on airport operations, according to a statement from the Connecticut Airport Authority.
The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was to conduct an autopsy Saturday on the passenger who died, a spokesperson told CNN. The person who died has not been publicly identified and no other information has been provided about them.
The FAA, NTSB, and the FBI will investigate the incident, according to statements from the FAA and Connecticut State Police.
“Investigators have removed the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder and are continuing to gather information from the flight crew, operator and other passengers,” the NTSB wrote in its statement.
The NTSB will release a preliminary report in two to three weeks, the agency wrote in a statement.
Turbulence is the term for air movement that can give an airplane a sudden jolt and can be particularly dangerous to people not wearing a seat belt, according to the FAA.
From 2009 to 2021, 146 people aboard Part 121 carriers – regular commercial airlines – suffered a “serious injury” from turbulence, defined as an injury that requires hospitalization for more than two days, causes a bone fracture, leads to severe hemorrhage or other damage, involves an internal organ, or involves significant burns, according to FAA data.
Of the 146 serious injuries, about 80% were crew members.
There have not been any turbulence-related deaths on Part 121 carriers since 2009, according to NTSB data. A 2009 CNN article noted there had been three people killed in turbulence-related accidents since 1980, according to the administration.
However, the private jet involved in Friday’s fatal incident is considered a Part 91 carrier, a general aviation category that includes a wide range of private planes, NTSB spokesperson Sarah Taylor Sulick told CNN.
There have been 38 turbulence-related deaths involving Part 91 planes since 2009, and in almost all of these incidents, the turbulence caused a fatal crash, according to NTSB data.
Though there have been no commercial deaths from turbulence in over a decade, it can still create serious risks.
Sara Nelson, a United flight attendant and the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, a union representing 50,000 flight attendants across 20 airlines, told CNN last year flight attendants pushing around 300-pound carts were most likely to get hurt.
“We have flight attendants who have been thrown into the ceiling and then back down several times, resulting in broken limbs. In the aisle, with unannounced turbulence, we had people who lost toes, or lost the ability to work, or sustained injuries that kept them off the job for years,” she said.
Last week, seven people were taken to hospitals after turbulence aboard a Lufthansa flight traveling from Texas to Germany, an airport spokesperson said. A passenger on board described the plane as moving like a roller coaster.
“During dinner service, there suddenly was a wind shear, the plane increased altitude, then we fell 1,000 feet,” passenger Susan Zimmerman said. “It was like unexpectedly free-falling for five seconds off the top of a roller coaster, plates and glassware were up at the ceiling, and my purse from the floor flew behind me to the right.”
And in December, at least 36 people on a Hawaiian Airlines flight were injured, with 20 taken to emergency rooms, after their plane encountered severe turbulence on a flight, authorities said.