Updated Words Translations

Please fasten your seatbelts…

“Please fasten your seatbelt and keep your seat upright for take-off and landing. For your safety, please keep your seatbelt on when you’re seated, in case we encounter unexpected turbulence” This is something that everyone who has ever boarded a flight has heard at the beginning of each flight. However, how many of us have indeed followed these recommendations once that light is off?

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ321

Last week, Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London to Singapore had to make an emergency landing in Bangkok after hitting severe turbulence. According to several news reports and testimonies of the passengers on board that flight, the plane dropped altitude and jerked for some time, causing some passengers to get injured. Unfortunately, one passenger died after having a heart attack during this horrific event. He was the only casualty and the pilot managed to land safely in Bangkok. Several passengers were treated in hospital for their injuries and others were put into another flight to their destination.

Some Australians arriving in Sydney on Thursday said they had their seatbelt on and they weren’t injured. They also told the media about the horrific experience.

For your safety

We should keep our seatbelts on during the flight. It is a safety measure that can save us from serious injury. This incident was a great example of this. Usually, when the pilot knows the aircraft is expected to hit turbulence, the lights go on and you are told to fasten your seatbelts. Usually, this happens when you fly next to mountains or coastlines. Storms can also cause severe turbulence and that case pilots are usually advised to avoid them as they may contain microbursts which are a very dangerous type of wind event. However, sometimes there might be unexpected turbulence and Flight SQ321 seems to be an example of this. According to some meteorologists this was caused by two divergent masses of air, one hot and the other one cold. There was no storm so they call it the “invisible turbulence” as it apparently cannot be seen by radars, according to ABC News.

Passengers said that the pilot tried to warn them but it was too late. This was probably because he had no warning about it, and when he did he was already hitting the air mass. This is what they refer to as unexpected turbulence. Having your seatbelts on may help you avoid serious harm. If you are sleeping, for example, you may miss the warnings, or if it is a sudden event like this one, it may be too late.

Having said that this doesn’t mean flying is not safe or that we should be afraid of flying. Fortunately, events like this are relatively rare, although mild turbulence is quite common in any flight, even a domestic flight from Sydney to the Gold Coast or Melbourne. I think the secret is to listen to the cabin crew, and even if you are a frequent flyer and you have heard that briefing many times, don’t put it off, it’s always good to keep ourselves up to date.

As for your seatbelt, well I think it’s a no-brainer, keep it on at all times and only take it off when you need to go to the toilet or to stretch your legs. Maybe after this incident, changes will be made so passengers will now have to wear seatbelts the entire trip and instead of being recommended, it’s made compulsory. Who knows!

I am sure there will be an investigation and aviation will try to find solutions to avoid another incident like this from happening. That is what it always does. In the meantime, I think we can all do our fair share and use a bit of common sense. “Please keep your seatbelts on in case we encounter unexpected turbulence and enjoy your flight with us!”