NEW DELHI - Heavy turbulence during an Air India flight to Delhi last week caused a window panel inside the plane to fall off and left three passengers injured, The Times of India news website reported.
Flight AI 462, which had taken off from Amritsar on Thursday (April 19), encountered severe turbulence for 10 to 15 minutes during its ascent from 8,000 feet to 21,000 feet, the website reported citing sources on Sunday (April 22).
Passengers were left terrified when the turbulence hit, causing a window panel on seat 18-A to fall off. The outside part of the window, however, was not broken and no de-pressurisation occurred during the flight.
One passenger, who was believed to have been sitting with his seat belt unfastened, suffered injuries after hitting his head on an overhead cabin while two others sustained minor injuries.
An overhead panel cover on seat 12-U also suffered cracks.
Oxygen masks were also deployed during the incident.
The cause of the turbulence on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is being investigated and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board has been informed.
"This was a freak high level turbulence. AI (Air India) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is probing it," the website quoted a senior Air India official as saying.
The three people injured on the flight were taken to hospital upon landing, with the passenger who hit his head on the overhead panel needing stitches, the website said.
The other two were given first aid and went on to take their connecting flights after receiving doctor's approval to travel.
The turbulence on the Air India flight has drawn parallels to an incident during a Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight in October 2014. The SIA Flight 424 hit sudden turbulence while landing in Mumbai, leaving 22 passengers and crew injured.
"Turbulence can be really severe when a plane flies it. The SIA incident of 2014 had happened with the biggest commercial airliner, A-380, which saw so many injuries. This week's AI incident happened with a twin aisle Dreamliner. Why it happened is being probed," sources were quoted telling the website.
The Times of India said Delhi and North India have seen strong winds and sand storms in recent days, although it was not clear whether that had led to the turbulence.