Singapore Airlines turbulence flight that left Brit dead 'dropped 54 metres in four seconds'

29 May 2024, 11:24 | Updated: 29 May 2024, 11:54

The Singapore Airlines flight dropped 54 metres in 4.6 seconds, an investigation has found.
The Singapore Airlines flight dropped 54 metres in 4.6 seconds, an investigation has found. Picture: Getty/Alamy/Social Media

By Jenny Medlicott

A Singapore-London Airlines flight that was hit by severe turbulence and left one Brit dead ‘dropped 54 metres in four seconds’, an investigation has found.

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The plane which was travelling from London to Singapore last week, with 211 passengers and 18 crew on board, dropped sharply from 37,000ft to 31,000ft in just five minutes near Myanmar airspace around 11 hours into its journey.

The turbulence resulted in the death of a 73-year-old Brit, Geoff Kitchen, who died of a suspect heart attack, among dozens of injuries, including six Brits who were sent to intensive care units.

Now an investigation has revealed the dramatic change in gravitational force which likely caused the injuries of those on board.

The Transport Safety Investigation Bureau said: "The vertical acceleration changed from negative 1.5G to positive 1.5G within 4 seconds. This likely resulted in the occupants who were airborne to fall back down."

It added: "The rapid changes in G over the 4.6 seconds duration resulted in an altitude drop of 178ft (54m), from 37,362 ft to 37,184ft. This sequence of events likely caused the injuries to the crew and passengers."

Read more: ‘Devoted’ wife of London-Singapore flight victim among six Brits in intensive care as she’s told of husband’s death

Read more: 'Blood everywhere' inside the cabin: Passengers 'blacked out' in severe turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight

Geoff Kitchen died of a suspected heart attack.
Geoff Kitchen died of a suspected heart attack. Picture: Social media

It comes after Singapore Airlines said last week that the pilot declared a medical emergency and landed in Bangkok after "sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000ft about 10 hours after departure".

Twenty eight people are still in Thai hospitals following the incident.

Musical theatre director Geoff Kitchen, 73, was travelling in premium economy with his wife Linda when the Singapore Airlines plane flight SQ321 experienced turbulence while flying near Myanmar airspace.

The head of Bangkok Airport, where the plane was diverted to, said Mr Kitchen died of a suspected heart attack during the turbulence.

Any passengers on board the flight not wearing seatbelts were “launched into the ceiling," those on board later said.

Crew on board the plane were left bloodied after the terrifying flight
Crew on board the plane were left bloodied after the terrifying flight. Picture: Social Media

Sharing their horrific experience afterwards, one passenger said: “Some poor people walking around ended up doing somersaults. It was absolutely terrible.”

Another passenger, named as Josh, told the Times he had blacked out amid the savage turbulence.

He said the cabin was covered in pools of blood when he came round.

“There was water everywhere, blood everywhere, people's belongings just strewn all over the plane.”

Images posted on social media showed blood stains and damage to the ceiling of the cabin, and food, cutlery and other debris strewn on the floor after the incident.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Greater Bay Airlines said from Thursday it would require passengers to faster their seatbelts at all times during flights even when the seat belt is sign is off.

It added, however, that it is not a madatory requirement but a precautionary measure.

Singapore Airlines said it acknowledged the report and was cooperating fully with the investigation.