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Local Pilot Speaks on Plane Turbulence Death Investigation

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Federal officials are investigating a passenger’s death after a private plane made an emergency landing at Bradley International Airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board says the plane experienced severe turbulence just minutes after takeoff.

A Bombardier Challenger 300 business jet is the focus of the NTSB investigation. The agency now says a passenger died due to injuries from a “severe turbulence event” that happened during the flight.

Michael Teiger, a local pilot with 40 years of experience says that news is very unusual.

“Turbulence related deaths are extraordinarily rare. We do hear about injuries from time to time, but deaths…it would have to be particular circumstances,” he said.

Teiger says turbulence is common on all flights and is difficult to avoid completely.

“But imagine you’re on the ground and you see a breeze. That’s what turbulence up in the air. What makes it so difficult is when you’re in the air, there are no wheels on the ground so airplanes bounce around,” he said.

The plane is owned by Conexon, a company based out of Kansas City, which brings high-speed internet to rural communities.

The company confirmed the plane was theirs and the person who died was not an employee. The NTSB gave no details on whether the plane was damaged or whether the victim was wearing a seat belt.

The FAA reported 146 serious injuries from turbulence between 2009 to 2021 from larger commercial airlines. Teiger says turbulence can cause people or objects be to be thrown around and urges passengers to wear their seats belts and listen to the flight crew's directions.

“When you are unconnected to the airplane, without a seat belt, you’re at risk of the flying object idea,” he said.

He also wants to assure passengers they’re safe flying.

“Planes are designed to be safe in turbulence. They don’t fall out of the sky, and any competent pilot is going to be able to manage the turbulence,” Teiger said.

Airport officials say operations at Bradley were not affected with this landing. The NTSB says it will release a preliminary report in a matter of days.

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