The Singapore Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok last week after hitting “severe turbulence” plunged 178 feet over 4.6 seconds, investigators have revealed. 

Singapore’s Ministry of Transport says the sudden drop in altitude “likely caused the injuries to the crew and passengers” onboard the Boeing 777-300ER jet that was heading from London to Singapore. A 73-year-old passenger on the plane died after suffering a suspected heart attack while dozens of others were left injured, according to Reuters. 

The Ministry of Transport says investigators from Singapore, working with representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, determined that the Singapore Airlines Flight 321 first started experiencing a vibration while traveling over an area south of Burma on May 21. 

“Around the same time as the onset of the slight vibration, an uncommanded increase in aircraft altitude, reaching a peak of 37,362 ft, was recorded. In response to this uncommanded altitude increase, the autopilot pitched the aircraft downwards to descend back to the selected altitude of 37,000 ft,” the agency said.  


“In addition, the pilots observed an uncommanded increase in airspeed which they arrested by extending the speed brakes,” it continued. “While managing the airspeed, at 07:49:32 hr, it was heard that a pilot called out that the fasten seat belt sign had been switched on.” 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SINGY SINGAPORE AIRL 9.975 +0.12 +1.17%
BA THE BOEING CO. 175.08 +0.56 +0.32%

“The rapid changes in G over the 4.6 sec duration resulted in an altitude drop of 178 ft, from 37,362 ft to 37,184 ft,” the Ministry of Transport also said. 


Singapore Airlines plane encounters severe turbulence

Singapore Airlines said in a statement that it has acknowledged the preliminary findings and is “fully cooperating with the relevant authorities in the ongoing investigations into this incident.” 

“We are committed to supporting our passengers and crew members who were on board SQ321 on that day, as well as their families and loved ones,” it added. “This includes covering their medical and hospital expenses, as well as any additional assistance they may need.” 

Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old passenger onboard the flight, previously told Reuters that “Suddenly the aircraft [started] tilting up and there was shaking so I started bracing for what was happening, and very suddenly there was a very dramatic drop so everyone seated and not wearing a seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling.” 

Singapore Airlines cabin damage


“Every single cabin crew I saw was injured,” Andrew Davies, another traveler onboard the flight, told Reuters. “I didn’t see anybody who worked for Singapore Airlines that was not injured. 


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