Passenger dies during severe turbulence

Henry

One person died and 30 were injured on Tuesday when a Singapore Airlines flight encountered severe turbulence. The plane was on its way from London to Singapore and had to make an emergency landing in Bangkok.

Flight tracking data shows the plane descended more than 1,800 meters in just five minutes over the Andaman Sea, west of Thailand. Several persons on board suffered head injuries. This is the latest drama involving a Boeing aircraft.

Singapore Airlines said flight SQ321 took off from London’s Heathrow Airport and “encountered severe turbulence en route”.

“We can confirm that there is one fatality and injuries on board the Boeing 777-300ER. There were 211 passengers and 18 crew members on board,” the airline said in a statement.

Kittipong Kittikachorn, director at Suvarnabhumi Airport, said the passenger who died was a 73-year-old man from England.

Most of the injuries sustained were blows to the head, Kittipong added. Seven of the persons are in a critical condition.

A total of 30 passengers and crew members were injured in the incident, the airport and airline said.

“We deeply apologize for the traumatic experience our passengers and crew suffered. We are providing all necessary assistance during this difficult time,” Singapore Airlines said.

The incident comes amid severe thunderstorms in Thailand during the country’s annual rainy season.

“The airport received an emergency call at 15:35 from the Singapore Airlines flight that there were passengers on board who were injured during turbulence. They requested an emergency landing,” a spokesperson for the airport said in a statement. “The plane landed and the medical team was deployed to treat all injured persons.”

The plane landed at 15:45.

Singapore’s transport ministry, meanwhile, said it would deploy investigators to Bangkok. Pres. Tharman Shanmugaratnam said people should “hope and pray” that the injured will recover.

Boeing said it was “ready to support Singapore Airlines”.

“We express our deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one to death. We are thinking of the passengers and crew members,” Boeing said in a post on X.

A series of problems

The American planemaker has been plagued by a series of problems in recent years, including the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes of 737 MAX planes in 2018 and 2019 that claimed the lives of more than 350 people.

In January, the manufacturer also experienced an almost catastrophic incident when a fuselage panel of a Boeing 737 MAX 9 Alaska Airlines plane blew off in the middle of the flight.

In March, a Boeing 777 plane, on its way to Japan, had to make an emergency landing when a wheel fell off just after the plane took off. The wheel ended up in a parking lot of the San Francisco International Airport.

At least 13 people were also hospitalized in March after a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner of LATAM Airlines experienced a technical problem during a flight and suddenly fell some distance in the air. The plane was en route from Sydney to Auckland when the incident occurred.

CEO Dave Calhoun’s retirement was announced in March.

A Southwest Airlines flight had to return to Denver, Colorado in the USA in April when an engine hood fell off just after the plane took off.

A Boeing 737 of a FlySafair aircraft had to turn around in April – shortly after it left OR Tambo airport for Cape Town – due to damage to one of the wheels. The plane apparently lost its wheel during takeoff.

The company has a deadline this month to submit a plan as required by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Production of Max aircraft has been suspended until the company can show progress on safety and quality control.

The company could face a strike of 30,000 workers in September if it cannot reach an agreement with the international association for machinists and aviation workers.