One person died and 30 others were injured after a Singapore Airlines plane encountered severe turbulence en route from London to Singapore. The plane had to land urgently this Tuesday, May 21 in Bangkok, at 3:45 p.m. local time. Flight SQ321, which left London Heathrow on Monday evening, was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER which carried 211 passengers and 18 crew members, the company said on Facebook.

The passenger who died was a 73-year-old British man, said Kittipong Kittikachorn, director of Suvarnabhumi Airport. Of the passengers, 56 were Australians, 47 British and 41 Singaporeans, the airline said. A total of 30 passengers and crew members suffered injuries in the incident, Singapore Airlines and the airport reported. Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok said a total of 71 people had been treated, including six seriously injured.

Andrew Davies, a British passenger on board, told BBC Radio 5 that the plane had “suddenly gone down” and there had been “very little warning”. “During the few seconds after the plane went down, we heard a terrible scream and what sounded like a thud,” he said, adding that he helped a woman who was “screaming at agony” and who had a “gash on the head”. He described seeing people with head lacerations and bleeding ears: “I was covered in coffee. The turbulence was incredibly strong.

The plane of flight SQ321 took off from London’s Heathrow airport and encountered “strong turbulence above the Irrawaddy [a river in Burma, Editor’s note] at an altitude of 11,200 meters, approximately 10 hours after the takeoff,” explained Singapore Airlines. The incident occurred as parts of Thailand were hit by thunderstorms at the start of the rainy season.

“At 3:35 p.m., the airport received a distress call from the Singapore Airlines flight indicating that there were passengers on board injured by turbulence and requesting an emergency landing,” Suvarnabhumi Airport said in a statement. At 3:45 p.m. local time, the Boeing 777 landed on the runway and ambulances rushed towards it with sirens blaring and flashing lights.

“We sincerely apologize for the traumatic experience experienced by our passengers and crew members on this flight. We are providing all necessary assistance during this difficult period,” the airline assured. Singapore’s Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said he was “deeply saddened” by the incident and offered his condolences to the deceased’s family.

This is the latest incident involving a Boeing plane, following the explosion of a fuselage panel of an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX in January, as well as two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019, although the it is not yet known whether the turbulence was caused by a technical problem or simply difficult conditions.

The American aviation giant Boeing is shaken by multiple crises linked to production and quality control problems. It announced in March the departure of its CEO, Dave Calhoun, at the end of the year and which has been the subject of increased attention in recent months from authorities, regulators and the justice system in particular.

This change at the head of the aircraft manufacturer is the consequence of the in-flight incident on a new Alaska Airlines plane on January 5, the last straw after a series of production problems in 2023 affecting the 737 MAX and the 787 Dreamliner. Two fatal crashes, in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019, which killed a total of 346 people, led to a lengthy grounding of the 737 MAX fleet around the world.

By May 28, Boeing must submit to the American aviation regulator, the FAA – which has frozen production of the 737 MAX indefinitely – a “comprehensive action plan” to remedy the numerous non-compliance problems. . In July, the US Department of Justice must decide whether or not to launch criminal proceedings. At the same time, Boeing must negotiate with the International Union of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) the collective agreement which will replace the one expiring in September.