WINDOR LOCKS, Conn. (AP) — Severe turbulence over New England brought down a commercial jet, killing a passenger and forcing the plane to divert to Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport, officials said Saturday.
Five people were aboard a Bombardier executive jet en route from Keene, New Hampshire, to Leesburg, Virginia, that crashed Friday afternoon, National Transportation Safety Board spokeswoman Sarah Sulick said.
The extent of the damage to the plane is unclear, and the NTSB has not released details, including whether the victim was wearing a seat belt. Connecticut State Police confirmed one person was taken to the hospital but did not provide further details.
The jet is owned by Conexon, a company based in Kansas City, Missouri, according to a Federal Aviation Administration database. The company, which brings high-speed Internet to rural communities, did not comment on Saturday.
NTSB investigators are interviewing the two crew members and the surviving passengers as part of their investigation into the fatal crash, Sulick said. The jet’s cockpit voice and data recorders have been sent to NTSB headquarters for analysis, she said.
Turbulence, the unstable air in the atmosphere, continues to cause injury to airline passengers despite improvements in airline safety.
Seven people were injured earlier this week. A Lufthansa Airbus A330 is well enough to be airlifted to hospitals after experiencing turbulence on a flight from Texas to Germany. The plane was diverted to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
But death is very rare.
“I can’t remember the last death due to violence,” said Robert Sumwalt, former NTSB chairman and executive director of the Aviation and Aerospace Safety Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Turbulence accounts for more than a third of all accidents on major commercial airlines Between 2009 and 2018, according to the NTSB.