Singapore Airlines plane dropped 54m in five seconds - report

Asia -->
Singapore Airlines plane dropped 54m in five seconds - report
The interior of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321

BBC | Early investigations into severe turbulence that hit a Singapore Airlines flight last Tuesday reveal it dropped around 178ft (54m) over 4.6 seconds.

One British passenger died and dozens more were injured when the London-Singapore flight encountered the turbulence over Myanmar and was diverted to Thailand.

Singaporean investigators have extracted data stored in the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder of the aircraft.

Singapore Airlines said it was co-operating with investigators and supporting affected passengers and crew, including with medical and hospital expenses.

The Transport Safety Investigation Bureau's (TSIB) preliminary findings found rapid changes in gravitational force (G) and the altitude drop - a distance almost equivalent to the height of Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa - likely injured those who were not wearing seatbelts.

It said the flight operated as normal until it probably flew over an area of "developing convective activity" while passing over the south of Myanmar at 37,000ft (11,300m).

"The rapid changes in G over the 4.6 seconds duration resulted in an altitude drop of 178ft (54m), from 37,362ft to 37,184ft," the TSIB report said.

"This sequence of events likely caused the injuries to the crew and passengers.

"After the pilots were informed by the cabin crew that there were injured passengers in the cabin, the decision was made to divert to Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand."

Approximately 17 minutes after the turbulence event, the pilots were able to make a "controlled descent from 37,000ft", the report said, adding the aircraft did not encounter any more severe turbulence during its diversion to Bangkok.

The pilots also requested for medical services to meet the aircraft on arrival.

TSIB, which operates under Singapore's transport ministry, said its investigations were ongoing.

There were 211 passengers and 18 crew onboard the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, according to Singapore Airlines.

Geoff Kitchen, 73, died from a suspected heart attack onboard, while 104 other passengers were taken to Bangkok's Samitivej Hospital for treatment.

Ali Bukhari, 27, who was seated with his wife Ramiza, told the BBC the aircraft went into "straight freefall".

"It was terrifying. It's just like going down a vertical roller coaster," he said.

"Oxygen masks had all come out, parts of the interior of the plane were damaged… I thought that was from the force of the turbulence but a lot of it was just because everyone who wasn't wearing a seatbelt flew right into the air and hit the ceiling.

“We saw blood on the ceiling… It was just complete havoc. A lot of people were on the floor."

Reader's Comments

LATEST STORIES

PICTURES: Muslims celebrate Feast of Sacrifice
top-stories By Alex Mugasha
14 hours ago
PICTURES: Muslims celebrate Feast of Sacrifice
Filmmakers urged to seek mentorship
entertainment By Kenneth Kazibwe
15 hours ago
Filmmakers urged to seek mentorship
Mubaje calls on Muslims to reject terrorism
top-stories By Muhamadi Matovu
16 hours ago
Mubaje calls on Muslims to reject terrorism
Kenya's Kimani beats Uganda to Shs230m Africa innovation prize
top-stories By Jacobs Seaman Odongo
16 hours ago
Kenya's Kimani beats Uganda to Shs230m Africa innovation prize

IGAD calls for ceasefire in Sudan
sudan By Julius Kitone
19 hours ago
IGAD calls for ceasefire in Sudan
Mbale school unveils smart classroom initiative
education By Gerald Matembu
19 hours ago
Mbale school unveils smart classroom initiative
ATMIS begins third phase of troop drawdown
security By Kenneth Kazibwe
20 hours ago
ATMIS begins third phase of troop drawdown
Traders shun Shs25.4bn Busia market
business By David Ochieng
20 hours ago
Traders shun Shs25.4bn Busia market