Passenger Loses Life to Singapore Airlines Flight Turbulence 

Air turbulence is a natural phenomenon that is bound to occur in flights. Although aircraft are designed to withstand it, certain unfortunate incidents are still destined to happen. In such a tragic case that happened recently, a passenger lost his life to a massive air turbulence that hit a Singapore Airlines flight. 

A passenger named Geoffrey Ralph Kitchen (in his early 70s) died at the moment due to a heart attack. This issue occurred, as he was impelled with great force from one side to another during the turbulence. The passenger was a British pensioner. 

Flying 37,000 ft above the Indian Ocean, Boeing 777 aircraft was proceeding on a route from London to Singapore. However, it had to take the route for an emergency landing at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Thailand. Emergency services were arranged at the Bangkok airport to treat the injured passenger, but all went in vain, as he was declared dead. 

In fact, around 100 passengers were also reported to be affected by injuries. According to The Associated Press, this turbulence caused skull trauma, back trauma, paralysis, and brain injuries, to many passengers. 

In wake of such catastrophic incidents, an agreement named The Montreal Convention (MC99) was announced in 1999 to make airlines answerable and pay for damages faced by passengers. As per the International Civil Aviation Organization (IATA), this treaty is a crucial part of airline policies that are formed to protect passengers. It covers matters related to passenger deaths, injuries, flight delays, lost or damaged baggage etc. 

No wonder, a wide range of tools and techniques are implemented by airlines to reduce the impact of turbulence on passengers and flight operations. Furthermore, pilots are trained to execute relevant steps on-the-stop to combat the issue and make the plane stable. Such a plan is strategized by the air traffic control department in guiding aircraft through areas where turbulence keeps happening. This is done to keep the passengers safe, as severe turbulence can hurt them, leading to unfavorable consequences. Still, the unexpected air pressure or several reasons lead to such disasters. 

What Causes Flight Turbulence? 

Let’s take a look at some of the major factors that cause turbulence in a flight:


Thick and dense clouds lead to air turbulence. Areas with thunderstorms or intense weather systems are generally the ones where air turbulence can occur. 

Atmospheric Waves 

Atmospheric waves or gravity waves can cause turbulence, as they create unstable pockets of air.

Wind Shear

An unexpected change in wind speed or direction leads to wind shear, which ultimately causes turbulence. This generally happens when an aircraft passes through a layer of wind with different speeds or directions.

Thermal Activity 

Rise in warm air leads to creation of air pockets which is one of the main reasons behind air turbulence. This usually occurs at locations having coastlines, mountains etc.

Mountain Waves

When air is pushed up and it goes over mountains, it leads to waves of air. These mountain waves can lead to severe turbulence and are generally prevalent in areas with high terrain.

Jet Stream 

A fast-moving band of air that flows from west to east at high altitudes is called jet stream. Flights tend to face turbulence when they pass through jet streams, especially during high speed winds. 

Aircraft Wake 

Turbulence can also occur when there is another aircraft flying ahead at a similar altitude and speed. 

Air Turbulence: Facts for Your Knowledge 

While it may not be completely possible to prevent air turbulence, certain measures are surely implemented to reduce its impact. 

Here are some of the important facts that you ought to know as a passenger.

Stringent Route Planning

Advanced weather forecasting tools and computer models are used by airlines to plan routes that help reduce the risk of turbulence.

Air Traffic Control Centers

Radar and other tools are used by the air traffic control centers to track weather patterns and predict areas of turbulence. 

Turbulence Awareness and Emergency Steps

Pilots are trained to identify and respond to turbulence accordingly. They undertake emergency procedures in times of crises. They are made well conversant with the process of landing an aircraft quickly and safely in case of severe turbulence.


Pilots keep communicating and coordinating with air traffic control and other aircraft to share information about turbulence. This helps them plan routes accordingly.

Turbulence Research

Aviation experts and researchers are engaged in understanding the complex scenarios of turbulence. This channelizes their path to develop new technologies so that such issues can be predicted on a timely basis. 

New Aircraft Designs

New aircraft designs are also being explored by research and development teams. This is a step towards designing aircraft with elevated features so that they could better withstand turbulence.

Top-notch Weather Forecasting Tools

Experts are also on their way to develop advanced weather forecasting tools that can help predict areas of turbulence in an improved manner.

Apart from these measures, passengers can also keep wearing seatbelts all the time during turbulence. Stowing away laptops and other electronic devices on a flight is also advised by airlines to prevent injuries. 

While these measures can definitely help reduce the risk of air turbulence, it is significant to highlight that turbulence cannot be completely eliminated.

However, it’s crucial on your part to stay informed about such matters so that you can act wisely in case of turbulence on your flight. 

Singapore Airlines Tragedy Related FAQ’s

Here are some of the important queries regarding air turbulence that are generally asked by flyers or travelers. Give it a read and gain important insights into aspects related to such incidents. 

What happened in the recent Singapore Airlines flight turbulence Tragedy?

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft that was flying from London to Singapore faced massive turbulence. A British passenger died due to a heart attack during the course of turbulence. The flight had to make an emergency landing at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Thailand to treat the passenger, but he was declared dead. Many other passengers were also injured in the incident.

What happens in air turbulence?

Turbulence is a natural phenomenon caused by changes in the atmosphere. It causes objects to move around and passengers feel a tight pressure against their seatbelts on a flight. They also face difficulty while walking. Airlines advise passengers to stow away their laptops or other electronic items to prevent injuries during such circumstances.

What are the common causes of turbulence?

Mountain waves, jet streams, storms, thermal activity, wind shear, and more such natural phenomena lead to flight or air turbulence. When such scenarios are detected or anticipated, the pilots take the necessary actions in confirmation with the air traffic control department to handle the situation diligently.

Is it safe to fly in turbulence?

Turbulence is caused by natural factors which are not under control. It can be mild or severe. Thus, passengers get injured during massive air turbulence. Although the airline teams and pilots are engaged in combating the issue to their best, such natural incidents are bound to occur and can lead to severe damages. 

What do pilots do during turbulence?

The air traffic control departments consistently keep tracking and monitoring the atmospheric conditions. They stay in constant touch with pilots and inform them if turbulence is anticipated at any level. Hence, the pilots are alerted and they take the suitable course to find a smoother layer of air. Pilots also request the air traffic control department to make the necessary adjustments for altitude according to the situation.

Do planes fall due to turbulence?

No, planes do not fall during turbulence. Passengers may feel impelled from here to there and vice-versa if the turbulence is massive. Pilots are trained in taking necessary steps to tackle the issue so that passengers stay safe and comfortable.

Is there a way to track real-time turbulence during a flight?

Yes, there are various tools designed to enable real-time tracking of air turbulence. These tools use live weather data and reports from aircraft to provide forecasts or updates about such situations. Accordingly, flyers are informed about the conditions they might encounter on their route.

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