Aviation Safety

Singapore Airlines Flight Encounters Severe Turbulence, Injuring 163 People

Main image to the post Singapore Airlines Flight Encounters Severe Turbulence, Injuring 163 People

A Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore encountered severe turbulence about 10 hours after departure. The cause of the turbulence is still under investigation.

Death by turbulence is rare, but severe encounters are not uncommon. According to Larry Cornman, a physicist and project scientist with the U.S. National Science Foundation National Center for Atmospheric Research, "Often, for something like this, it's just wrong place, wrong time."

From 2009 to 2023, turbulence caused 185 serious injuries, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The agency categorizes a serious injury as any that requires more than two days of hospitalization; involves any internal organ; or results in bone fractures, second- or third-degree burns, severe hemorrhages, or nerve, muscle or tendon damage.

Turbulence-related deaths can be caused by heart attacks or head injuries if a passenger's head strikes the ceiling or gets hit by falling luggage. However, seat-belted passengers should still feel safe in the skies.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said initial reports appear to indicate that the Singapore flight encountered clear-air turbulence — the most dangerous type because it cannot be seen and is virtually undetectable with current technology.

Nelson and a group of researchers say such incidents of clear-air turbulence — which is difficult to forecast and avoid because it is not associated with storms — are on the rise due to climate change. A 2023 study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that severe clear-air turbulence increased by more than 50% over the North Atlantic Ocean from 1979 to 2020.

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Round userpic of the post author Kyle Broflovski
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May 21, 2023 | 05:09