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Air New Zealand attendant hits ceiling and passenger burned in heavy turbulence

A crew member hit the plane ceiling and another was injured onboard an Air New Zealand flight when it was hit by severe turbulence.

The plane was flying from the New Zealand capital, Wellington, to Queenstown on Sunday afternoon when it flew into turbulence.

One crew member was hurled into the aircraft ceiling and one passenger suffered burns from hot coffee, according to local media outlet Crux. Neither was in a serious condition, according to the outlet.

A passenger told the outlet that flight attendants were bringing coffee and tea out when the plane hit turbulence unexpectedly, and that hot coffee was mistakenly poured over one female passenger.

“She received burns and a paramedic attended to her,” the passenger said, adding that the injured woman suffered some blistering and was picked up by ambulances waiting at the airport.

“One of the cabin crew told us how she was standing and went up and hit the ceiling.

“I personally have never had such sudden, full on turbulence on my travels,” they said. “The jolting and dropping, tilting slightly sideways felt like those parts where you go on a rollercoaster and start dropping down then boost back up.”

Two ambulances met the Air New Zealand plane at Queenstown, in the south of New Zealand. A spokesperson for Hato Hone St John, a charity which provides ambulance services in most of New Zealand, told the New Zealand Herald they were called to Queenstown Airport at 2:50pm local time on Sunday, and responded with two ambulances.

The ambulances took two patients in moderate condition to Lakes District Hospital, in Queenstown.

Reports of severe turbulence have increased in recent months, causing injuries and forcing planes to land prematurely. Experts warn they could increase in severity and volume as climate change takes hold.

David Morgan, chief operational integrity and safety officer at Air New Zealand confirmed that a customer and crew member were injured during turbulence on the NZ607 flight on Sunday.

“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our number one priority, and our crew are trained to respond to these situations,” he said.

“Our operating procedures outline our onboard response to different levels of turbulence, including detailing when passengers and crew are required to take their seats during the flight. From time to time, clear-air turbulence can occur where rough air is not visible to the flight crew.

“We’re always reviewing our operating procedures in line with both regulation and international best practice to ensure the safety of our customers and crew is prioritised.”

Last week, a severe hailstorm tore off the nose of an Austrian Airlines plane, also shattering its cockpit windows. No one was hurt, and the flight arrived safely in Vienna.

Last month, a British passenger died and more than 70 others were injured as a result of severe turbulence on a flight from London to Singapore.

There are also concerns that incidents involving hailstorms and other extreme weather forms could become more and more frequent due to climate change.

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