Singapore Releases Initial Report on Deadly Turbulence That Hit Flight

The severe turbulence that killed one passenger and injured dozens on a recent Singapore Airlines flight led to sudden changes in altitude and airspeed, Singapore’s Transport Ministry said on Wednesday.

Flight SQ321 encountered turbulence about 10 hours into a 13-hour trip to Singapore from London last week, officials said. Many of the 211 passengers had just finished breakfast.

The turbulence hit as the plane was traveling over southern Myanmar at an altitude of 37,000 feet, the Transport Ministry said in a preliminary report on Wednesday.

When the plane rose unexpectedly by 362 feet, probably because of an updraft, its autopilot pitched it downward, the report said. The plane also sped up unexpectedly around the same time, and the pilots manually hit a brake in response.

All of that activity probably caused the injuries to the passengers and crew members as the plane lost about 178 feet of altitude in less than five seconds, the report said. People who were not wearing seatbelts became airborne before falling back down.

The plane was diverted to Thailand, where it landed safely. Officials later said a 73-year-old man from Britain had died on board and that 71 people had been injured.