Enhanced seat belt protocols considered after fatal turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight

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24th May 2024 – (Singapore) In the aftermath of a fatal incident on a Singapore Airlines flight, where severe turbulence led to the death of a passenger and injuries to dozens more, experts have raised questions about the feasibility of mandating seat belts throughout the duration of flights.

The flight, designated SQ321, was en route from London to Singapore with 211 passengers and 18 crew members when it encountered unexpected severe turbulence. The incident resulted in the death of a 73-year-old British man and injuries to at least 40 passengers, some of whom were thrown against the cabin ceiling.

In response to this tragedy, Singapore Airlines announced immediate changes to its in-flight policies. These adjustments include the suspension of meal services during turbulence and stricter enforcement of the seat belt sign. Crew members are now also required to take their seats and fasten seat belts as soon as the sign is activated.

Albert Tiong, Chief Ground Instructor at Seletar Flight Academy, commented on the practicality of continuous seat belt enforcement. “While it is critical to ensure passenger safety during take-off, landing, and turbulence, requiring seat belts to be fastened throughout the entire flight could pose significant challenges, especially on long-haul routes where passengers need to move around,” he explained.

A Flight Safety Foundation spokesperson also weighed in, agreeing that while the safety benefits of seat belt use are undeniable, enforcing them at all times could be impractical. He noted, “Passengers often need to stand, whether to stretch, use the lavatories, or retrieve items, which necessitates some flexibility.”

The incident has prompted a broader discussion on passenger safety and responsibility. A retired Singapore Airlines pilot, who preferred to remain anonymous, stressed the importance of personal responsibility in such situations. “This incident should serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of air travel and the simple but crucial measure of keeping seat belts fastened,” he remarked.