Transportation Safety Board Warning Airplane Passengers to Wear Seat Belts After Turbulence Injures 21 People

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If you hate buckling up on a plane when asked to do so, you might want to carefully consider how much you value safety over comfort.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada recently reminded passengers to comply with cabin and flight crew instructions regarding seat belts after 21 people were injured while passing through a turbulent area on a Pearson Airport-bound Air Canada flight in December 2015.

On Dec. 30, 2015, a Boeing 777 that was destined for Toronto departed from Shanghai. According to TBS, the flight crew was notified that they were approaching an area of "severe" turbulence over the southern coastal mountains of Alaska. About two and a half hours later—35 minutes before entering the turbulent area—the first officer asked that in-flight service be suspended and that the cabin be secured.

Seat belt signs were turned on and announcements were made in English, French and Mandarin. Despite the announcements and signage, many passengers were not wearing their seatbelts when the turbulence hit and 21 people were hurt as a result.

One of the 21 passengers sustained a serious injury and first aid was provided onboard the plane after the aircraft exited the turbulent region. The flight was diverted to Calgary.

You can actually watch a video here that describes what occurred and warns passengers of what can happen should they hit an area of severe turbulance while they're not buckled in.

TSB's investigation into the incident found that the flight crew acted appropriately and that their call to secure the cabin prevented further injury to other passengers. The investigation also determined that the flight crew was last exposed to information on jet streams (fast-flowing air currents) and turbulence in training in 2011 and 2012.

TSB reports that Air Canada dispatchers had also received training on clear air turbulence weather and jet streams, but that training material given to both pilots and dispatchers did not contain information on the increased likelihood of turbulence through a wide range of altitudes when jet streams cross mountainous terrain.

"If training material does not contain complete information pertaining to all of the factors that contribute to turbulence, then there is a risk that the best course of action will not be taken," TBS' statement reads.

After the incident, Air Canada issued bulletins providing dispatchers with guidance on reporting and providing information to support flight crews in avoiding turbulence.

So, there you have it—when that seat belt sign comes on, buckle up!

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