A flight attendant broke her back during severe turbulence on a flight in Turkey — the 3rd major incident of its kind in a week

  • A flight attendant broke her back on a short domestic flight in Turkey after the plane hit turbulence.

  • It's the third case within a week of midflight turbulence causing injuries and even one death.

  • The three instances are likely not linked, but a 2023 study found turbulence was getting worse.

A Turkish Airlines flight attendant broke her back after the plane she was on hit turbulence, local media reported.

The crew member was working on a 50-minute domestic flight from Turkey's biggest city, Istanbul, to Izmir, in the west of the country.

Shortly after the pilot told passengers to fasten their seat belts, the Airbus A321 suddenly dropped midair amid turbulence, Hürriyet, Turkey's biggest newspaper, reported.

The woman, who had been on the job for only two months, was thrown up toward the ceiling and then fell down to the floor of the plane, Hürriyet added.

She was taken to a hospital in Izmir upon landing, where medical staff confirmed that she had a broken vertebra, the outlet said.

It's the third widely reported case within a week of turbulence causing injuries to passengers.

Over the weekend, 12 people were injured during midflight turbulence on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Dublin. The turbulence hit while the plane was flying over Turkey, Dublin Airport told Business Insider.

Upon landing, the flight was met by airport police and emergency services. Eight people were taken to the hospital.

It isn't clear whether the patch of turbulence the Qatar plane hit was the same as that which impacted the Turkish Airlines flight.

The weekend's incidents followed one of the worst cases of turbulence injuries in recent years.

One man died, and more than 100 passengers were injured on board a Singapore Airlines flight on May 21 after the plane dropped hundreds of feet before stabilizing midair.

Images from the diverted flight showed debris strewn across the cabin and blood on the ceiling. Geoff Kitchen, a 73-year-old who had an existing heart condition, died on board the flight.

A general view of the cabin of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321, which was hit by severe turbulence.
Severe turbulence dislodged oxygen masks and caused injuries to dozens of passengers on Singapore Airlines Flight SQ321.Reuters/Stringer

Several passengers suffered traumatic injuries, including paralysis, skull and back trauma, and brain injuries, The Associated Press reported.

On Monday, the airline said in a statement that 34 passengers from the flight remained in the hospital.

Though they occurred in close proximity, the three dramatic cases of turbulence do not appear to be connected. Instances of severe injuries linked to turbulence remain rare, with about a dozen people a year badly hurt from turbulence in the US, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Turbulence, which refers to sharp changes to airflow, is common at high altitudes but is believed to be becoming more severe because of the climate crisis.

In a 2023 study, researchers at the UK's University of Reading found that in 1979, there were about 17.7 hours of severe turbulence over an average point above the Atlantic Ocean. By 2020, this had jumped to 27.4 hours, an increase of 55%.

Some turbulence is easy to spot, as it's linked to storms or heavy clouds. But rising temperatures may be causing more "clear-air turbulence," which hits suddenly and is harder to avoid.

The only way it can be detected is if another flight hits it first and warns others.

Fifteen airlines are working on a solution to better monitor clear-air turbulence, the Financial Times reported.

Last week, a pilot, Emma Henderson, told BI that even though the Singapore Airlines flight was an extreme case, it's a good idea to always wear a seatbelt, even if the sign is off, to protect against turbulence.

Turkish Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BI.

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