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SINGAPORE AIRLINES: Extreme turbulence emergency landing. One dead, 71 injured.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES: Extreme turbulence emergency landing. One dead, 71 injured.

In an awful but more and more common incident overnight, a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777, flight SQ321 flying from London to Singapore on Tuesday hit extreme turbulence. Passengers and crew were flung around the cabin during breakfast service, causing interior damage and multiple physical injuries, including the death of a 73-year-old British citizen. The pilot declared a medical emergency, and the aircraft diverted to Bangkok, landing within 30 minutes of the incident.

56 Australians were among the 211 passengers and 18 crew on the flight. 71 passengers were being treated in Samitiveu Hospital in Bangkok, and six from the aircraft were being treated for severe injuries.

a group of people sitting in an airplane
How the interior looked after the turbulence episode [@AdityaRajKaul]

What happened?

Flight SQ321 was in the final hours of its flight between London and Singapore when it fell into an air pocket just as the cabin crew were serving breakfast. Then came the turbulence, which prompted the request for an emergency landing, according to Kittipong Kittikachorn, General Manager at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The flight was over the Irrawaddy Basin in Myanmar when the turbulence occurred about 10 hours into the flight. Data from FlightRadar24 shows that the plane was at 37,000 feet, which would be a pretty standard cruising altitude, at 8:06 a.m., and then it dropped 6,000 feet by 8:11 a.m. (coordinated universal time). That’s a drop of 6,000 feet in a matter of 5 minutes—which definitely explains why un-seatbelted passengers hit the ceiling hard, sustaining injuries to themselves and the ceiling panels.

It’s presumed that the 6,000-foot rapid descent was caused by the air pocket. We have no detail yet on the pilot responded. There is no suggestion that pilot behaviour contributed to the incident.

Australians injured in extreme turbulence

Some eight Australians are in hospital for treatment of injuries. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed this and is providing consular support to Australian passengers. Singapore Airlines is making arrangements to return Australian passengers.

a plane taking off from a runway
Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300 similar to the plane involved in the extreme turbulance and emergency landing incident in Bangkok [SIA]

Information sources

Australians affected can contact the government’s 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 in Australia.

You can find additional information on the incident of extreme turbulence at the following links:

a close up of a fabric
Life saver! A well used seatbelt on a Virgin Australia flight, 2022 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout


My heart goes out to all those on the flight, especially those injured, and the crew, who don’t always have the choice to sit down and put on a seatbelt when they are doing their job.

The occurrence of extreme turbulence is increasing due to climate change. In the period between 2009 and 2018, the USA National Transportation Safety Board reported that one-third of airline accidents were due to turbulence, and most resulted in some injury. In the four-year period up to 2018, there were injuries to passengers and crew on 30% of long-haul flights and 12% of short-haul.

I don’t know what will if those facts don’t make you put on your seat belt.


  1. Mudd

    no blogs so far has given any details other than the death and the injuries. Did it happen shortly after kickoff? Was there any pilot error? What was the route? I’d like to know the nitty-gritty

    • 2paxfly

      Hi Mudd, thanks for your comment. I have updated the post with an additional few paragraphs under the title ‘What happened?’ which should answer your question. It looks like a case of clear air turbulence, with no evident pilot error. If you want to delve further, the links provided in the post should help. Thanks again.


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