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Singapore Airlines changes its seat belt policy after severe turbulence

Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI) modified its onboard seat belt signage policies and altered at least one flight route after severe turbulence this week on a flight killed one person and left dozens seriously injured, according to the airline.

The airline is taking a more cautious approach, including not serving hot drinks or food when the seat belt sign is on, it said in a statement to Singapore broadcaster Channel News Asia.

“SIA will continue to review our processes as the safety of our passengers and crew is of paramount importance,” he said.

The airline did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Nearly 60 passengers were injured after London-Singapore flight SQ321 on May 21 encountered “sudden extreme turbulence” while flying over the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet. A 73-year-old British passenger died of a suspected heart attack.

The pilot diverted the Boeing 777-300ER carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, making an emergency landing.

The airline has completed two flights since the incident and has not flown over the part of Myanmar where the sudden turbulence occurred about three hours before the scheduled landing. The plane flew over the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, route data from flight tracker FlightRadar 24 shows.

Line graph with data from FlightRadar24 shows the vertical speed of Singapore Airlines flight SQ 321 from London to Singapore when it encountered severe turbulence on May 21.

Photos from inside the plane showed cuts in the cabin’s overhead panels, oxygen masks and panels hanging from the ceiling and luggage strewn everywhere. One passenger said some people’s heads slammed into the lights above the seats, breaking the panels.

As of Thursday night, 48 passengers and two crew members are hospitalized in Bangkok.

Twenty of the 48 remained in intensive care, an official at Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital said on Thursday, adding that the injured had a mix of spinal cord, brain and skull injuries.

Singapore Airlines, widely recognized as one of the world’s leading airlines and considered a benchmark for much of the industry, has had no major incidents in recent years.

Published by:

Akhilesh Nagari

Published in:

May 24, 2024

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