Singapore Airlines tighten safety measures during turbulence after fatal flight

24 May 2024, 12:05 | Updated: 24 May 2024, 14:14

Meals will be halted and crew will be told to strap in during turbulence, Singapore Airlines has said, as it introduces new safety measures following a fatal flight earlier this week.

Geoff Kitchen, 73, from Gloucestershire, died from a suspected heart attack as the SQ321 flight he was on encountered sudden extreme turbulence on Tuesday and was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok.

The Boeing 777-300ER, carrying 211 passengers, was travelling from London to Singapore when people were jolted out of their seats as the aircraft shuddered in mid-air.

The airline said it has adopted a "more cautious approach to managing turbulence in-flight".

It said: "In addition to the suspension of hot beverage service when the seat-belt sign is on, the meal service will also be suspended.

"Crew members will also return to their seats and secure their seat belts when the seat-belt sign is on."

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A total of 46 passengers and two crew members are still in hospital after sustaining injuries when the plane suddenly plummeted 6,000 feet in around three minutes, sending people and objects flying.

Many of the seriously injured have had to undergo spinal operations.

Officials said the turbulence was believed to have occurred when meals were being served and many people were not using their seat belts.

Singapore Airlines said other existing safety measures during poor weather conditions include getting crew members to secure loose items in the cabin and galley to minimise turbulence-related injuries, advising passengers to return to their seats and buckle up, and monitoring passengers who may need assistance such as those in the toilet.

"Pilots and cabin crew are aware of the hazards associated with turbulence. They are also trained to assist customers and ensure cabin safety throughout the flight," the airline said.

"SIA will continue to review our processes as the safety of our passengers and crew is of utmost importance."

The Singapore Straits Times newspaper said public records showed authorities have investigated six other Singapore Airlines flights hit by turbulence in the past two decades, in which some passengers and crew members were injured.

Tuesday's incident was the only one to have involved a fatality.

A total of 20 people from Tuesday's flight remain in intensive care, but none are reported to be in a life-threatening condition.

They include six Britons, six Malaysians, three Australians, two Singaporeans and one person each from Hong Kong, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Singapore Airlines has issued a deep apology over the incident.