SINGAPORE AIRLINE airplane during landing at Changi Internationa

SINGAPORE: After severe turbulence earlier this week caused the pilot of Singapore Airlines flight 321 to declare a medical emergency and land in Bangkok, SIA has made changes to cabin restrictions, the company announced on Friday (May 24).

The incident on May 21 caused one fatality and dozens of injuries. A number of of the affected passengers and crew on board are still in hospital in Bangkok, with some having to undergo spinal surgeries.

SIA said that it will be taking a “more cautious approach” in managing turbulence.

Prior to this week, serving of hot drinks had been halted during turbulence. Moving forward, the meal service will be suspended as well, including serving all drinks.

“Crew members will also continue to advise passengers to return to their seats and secure their seat belts. They will also monitor customers who may require assistance, including those in the lavatories,” said SIA.

They will also secure loose items in the plane cabins and galleys. When the seatbelt sign is lit, they will be required to take their seats and fasten their seatbelts.

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Cabin crew are also being asked to follow safety rules more strictly to prevent injuries and damage during incidents of turbulence.

Passengers, however, are still not required to strap themselves in throughout the duration of the trip. They are routinely advised to do so on flights, and are told to fasten their seatbelts only when weather conditions make it necessary.

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

On May 21, around 10 hours into Singapore Airlines flight 321 from London to Singapore, the aircraft encountered “sudden severe turbulence,” said SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong.

While the area over Myanmar where the plane encountered turbulence, the Intertropical Convergence Zone, is well known for such incidents, what happened to SQ321 was unusual. The plane dropped around 6,000 feet (1,830 m) in about three minutes, which is 2,000 feet (607 m) per minute or 33 feet (10 m) per second.

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There were 211 passengers and 18 crew members on board SQ321. By Thursday (May 23), 46 passengers and two crew members were still receiving medical treatment in Bangkok, 20 of whom are in the intensive care unit at Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital. The individuals who were hurt had spinal cord, brain and skull injuries, the hospital said. /TISG

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