Investigation reveals causes of severe turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight

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29th May 2024 – (Singapore) Preliminary findings from the investigation into the Singapore Airlines flight that experienced severe turbulence last week have shed light on the factors contributing to the incident. The probe, released on Wednesday, indicated that a sudden change in gravitational force and a subsequent drop in altitude of 54 meters were responsible for the injuries sustained by passengers.

The flight in question, SQ321, was en route from London to Singapore on 21st May when it encountered what the airline described as sudden and extreme turbulence over Myanmar. The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members, was forced to divert and make an emergency landing in Bangkok after passengers and crew were thrown around the cabin due to the turbulent conditions.

Singapore’s Transport Ministry stated that the aircraft experienced a rapid change in gravitational force, causing unbelted occupants to become airborne within seconds. It further explained that the vertical acceleration shifted from negative 1.5G to positive 1.5G in just four seconds, resulting in those who were airborne falling back down. These rapid changes in G-force led to an altitude drop of 54 meters within a duration of 4.6 seconds, from 37,362 feet to 37,184 feet. The sequence of events during the turbulence was identified as the likely cause of the injuries sustained by passengers and crew.

Passengers who experienced the terrifying ordeal described scenes of chaos, with individuals being thrown upwards and into the aisle, resulting in bleeding and head wounds. Photographs of the cabin revealed damage to overhead panels, hanging oxygen masks, and scattered luggage. Some passengers’ heads reportedly collided with the lights above their seats, causing further damage.

Singapore Airlines acknowledged the findings of the report and stated that it was fully cooperating with the investigation. As of Tuesday, 42 individuals from the flight were still in Bangkok, including 26 passengers receiving medical treatment in hospitals. Among the hospitalized passengers were individuals with spinal cord injuries, as well as those with brain and skull injuries, according to Thai medical officials.

In response to the incident, Hong Kong’s Greater Bay Airlines announced on Wednesday that passengers would be required to keep their seatbelts fastened at all times during flights, even when the seatbelt sign is turned off. The airline stressed that this measure was a precautionary one aimed at enhancing passenger safety.