QantasLink investigating midair incident

TWO crew members and a passenger were injured when a QantasLink flight from Melbourne encountered severe turbulence on descent into Canberra.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the incident on Monday afternoon involving a Bombardier Dash 8 which seats up to 74 people.

As the plane passed 7000 feet (2.1 kilometres) on descent into Canberra, severe turbulence caused the aircraft to lurch dramatically.

After landing in Canberra, the aircraft was grounded for a maintenance inspection but is now back in service.

It is understood the injured passenger and two crew suffered cuts and bruising but did not require hospitalisation.

As part of the investigation, the ATSB will interview the flight and cabin crew to gather additional information.

Bureau of Meteorology observations for Monday show Canberra experienced strong west-north-westerly winds of up to 61km/h.

The ATSB summary raised the possibility of windshear or a “microburst” which is considered of significant danger to aircraft on landing, and has even contributed to fatal plane crashes.

A QantasLink spokesman declined to comment, saying only they were assisting with the ATSB investigation.

Crews are trained to recover from severe turbulence including microbursts and in this case, the flight landed without further problems.

Aviation incidents involving severe turbulence are not uncommon in Australia with 110 reported in the past 12-months, only one of which occurred in Canberra.

But none of those was deemed necessary of an investigation by the ATSB.

The Bureau expects to finalise its report on Monday’s incident in a few months time.

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