A Lufthansa flight en route from Austin, Texas, to Frankfurt, Germany, was reportedly struck by lightning on Wednesday, sending the plane plummeting and terrifying passengers.
The flight made an emergency landing at Washington-Dulles International Airport around 9 p.m., three hours into the flight. Seven passengers were taken to the hospital.
Flight LH469 “encountered brief but severe turbulence about 90 minutes after takeoff,” Lufthansa said in a statement, adding that the crew “made an unscheduled landing at Washington Dulles Airport as a precautionary measure.”
“Lufthansa Flight 469 diverted to Dulles International Airport and landed without incident around 9:10 p.m. local time after the crew reported encountering severe turbulence at 37,000 feet altitude over Tennessee,” the FAA stated.
A passenger said the plane went into “free fall,” adding that passengers and food “went flying into the air, hitting and even damaging the ceiling of the plane.” The passenger claimed someone in front of them was “badly hurt” with blood dispersed over their seat.
Another person whose sister and brother were reportedly on the flight said her siblings said “it was exceptionally scary, lots of broke [sic] glass and screaming and multiple injuries.
“We would like to get immediate help and compensation for the catastrophic forced landing incident involving LH469. Many of our plans have been affected, our clothes are ruined, and we definitely expect far more than just a hotel tonight. Reply ASAP,” one person said on Twitter.
Lufthansa replied, “I am sorry to hear about your experience. Please reach out to our colleagues at the airport for immediate assistance. In terms of compensation, we encourage you to submit your request here.”
Hi Ashley, I am sorry to hear about your experience. Please reach out to our colleagues at the airport for immediate assistance. In terms of compensation, we encourage you to submit your request here: https://t.co/YXlBIwN6TD. /Aria
— Lufthansa (@lufthansa) March 2, 2023
“Commercial transport passenger planes are hit by lightning an average of one or two times a year. They are designed and built to have conducting paths through the plane to take the lightning strike and conduct the currents,” the National Weather Service states.
The FAA states: “Pilots should observe the following rules for any flight routed even potentially near actual or possible thunder- storm activity: Avoid all thunderstorms. Never go closer than 5 miles to any visible storm cloud with overhanging areas, and strongly consider increasing that distance to 20 miles or more. You can encounter hail and violent turbulence anywhere within 20 miles of very strong thunderstorms. Do not attempt flight beneath thunderstorms, even when visibility is good, because of the destructive potential of shear turbulence in these areas.”