Severe Turbulence on Singapore Airlines Flight: PM Promises Investigation

Singapore PM promises ‘thorough investigation’ after severe turbulence on flight from London

Singapore Airlines aircraft for flight SQ321 is parked on the tarmac after an emergency landing at a Bangkok airport following turbulence which left one dead. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Singapore’s Prime Minister has pledged a comprehensive investigation following a British passenger’s death and critical injuries to six others due to severe turbulence on a Singapore Airlines flight from London. The flight, carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew, made an emergency landing in Bangkok.

Lawrence Wong, the Prime Minister, expressed his condolences to the family of 73-year-old Geoffrey Kitchen, who reportedly had a heart condition. Wong also wished for the speedy recovery of the injured.

Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 encountered sudden extreme turbulence over Myanmar, ten hours into its journey. The turbulence caused the plane to rise and plunge abruptly, resulting in passengers and crew not wearing seatbelts being thrown into the cabin ceiling.

One passenger reported that the violent turbulence left dents in the ceiling and caused head injuries to many. Photos from inside the plane revealed a chaotic scene, with food, drinks, and luggage scattered around, and oxygen masks hanging from the ceiling.

In total, 83 passengers and crew were injured, according to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. Singapore is dispatching investigators to Bangkok and is collaborating closely with Thai authorities, Wong stated in a Facebook post.

The passengers included 56 Australians, 47 British, and 41 Singaporeans, as per the airline’s data. US-based aerospace safety expert Anthony Brickhouse emphasized the need for passengers to remain buckled on commercial flights, as turbulence can be unpredictable.

A 2023 study indicated a 17% increase in clear air turbulence duration from 1979 to 2020, with the most severe cases rising by over 50%. This trend is linked to global heating, which warms air at higher altitudes and makes weather more unpredictable.

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