boeing turbulence
A person is seen being carried away from the aircraft on a stretcher today in Bangkok
A passenger died and others were injured on a flight from London to Singapore today which is said to have plummeted for a number of minutes in extreme turbulence before making an emergency landing in Thailand.

The Boeing 777 plane operated by Singapore Airlines left the UK's Heathrow airport on Monday evening at 22.17pm local time with 211 passengers and 18 crew on board.

However, flight SQ321 experienced severe turbulence while flying close to Myanmar airspace in a region currently being battered by extreme tropical thunderstorms.

After around 11 hours of flying time from take off in London, the aircraft sharply dropped from an altitude of around 37,000 feet to 31,000 feet within just five minutes as it finished traversing the Andaman Sea and neared Thailand.

Comment: It's worth noting that, despite Boeing's well known and deadly safety problems, at least one study has documented that turbulence, overall, has been on the rise for the past 40 years, and particularly across the Atlantic. Alongside this, there's a myriad of other phenomena that seems to support the idea that there are significant changes occurring to our atmosphere: Aircraft experiencing 37% increase in turbulence over last 40 years


The plane - registered 9V-SWM - was diverted to the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok where it made an emergency landing at 15.45pm local time, the airline announced on its Facebook page.

It had been scheduled to land at the Singapore Changi Airport at 6.10pm local time.

Ambulances were pictured on the tarmac next to the plane, with emergency service workers seen carrying at least one person away in a stretcher.
This flight tracker showed the plane's route from London before diverting to Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok
Local media reported that one passenger had died and around 30 others were injured, leading to the emergency landing. It was not immediately clear where the person who died in the incident was from.

One man who said he was on the flight took to X (formerly Twitter) to describe the incident.

Andrew Davies, from Lewisham, London, wrote that he and other passengers who were not injured in the turbulence were currently waiting in a holding area at the airport.

Lots of people injured - including the air stewards who were stoic and did everything they could,' he wrote.

'Bangkok emergency services quick to respond. Very little warning. The seatbelt sign came on, I put on my seatbelt straightaway then the plane just dropped.'

Mr Davies wrote that 'passengers with medical training' were working to help the injured in the aftermath of the plane dropping.

'CPR on the poor gentleman that passed. Another passenger laid flat in aisle further behind me. Not sure what happened with them,' he said.

'People's belongings scattered, coffee and water splattered the ceiling. Surreal. So many injured people. Head lacerations, bleeding ears. A lady was screaming in pain with a bad back. I couldn't help her - just got her water.'

He said that he wished he could have done more to help, adding: 'My heart goes out to the gentleman who lost his life and his poor wife. Awful experience.

In a statement on Facebook, Singapore Airlines confirmed the emergency landing and that one passenger had died in the incident.

'Singapore Airlines flight #SQ321, operating from London (Heathrow) to Singapore on 20 May 2024, encountered severe turbulence en-route,' the statement from the airline said. 'The aircraft diverted to Bangkok and landed at 1545hrs local time.

'We can confirm that there are injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER. There were a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew on board,' it said.

'Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased.

'Our priority is to provide all possible assistance to all passengers and crew on board the aircraft,' the statement added. 'We are working with the local authorities in Thailand to provide the necessary medical assistance, and sending a team to Bangkok to provide any additional assistance needed.'

Singapore's Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said his country's government would assist the passengers and their families.

'I am deeply saddened to learn about the incident onboard Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London Heathrow to Singapore,' he wrote on Facebook.

Speaking to the BBC, aviation expert John Strickland said that injuries from flight turbulence are 'relatively rare' considering how many flights operate each day.

However, severe turbulence can be dramatic and lead to severe injuries or sadly in this case a fatality,' he added. 'It is not for nothing that airlines recommend keeping seat belts loosely fastened throughout a flight be it long or short.'

While there is no suggestion that today's incident was the fault of the plane, it is the latest scare involving a Boeing-manufactured aircraft in recent weeks.

Questions over safety have plagued the manufacturer ever since a door plug blew out of a 737 Max on an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

Comment: Safety issues, and their deadly consequences, began as far back as 2019; and, since then, at least one whistleblower has mysteriously died: (2019) Governments worldwide ground Boeing 737 MAX, mystery "new data" emerges: Boeing 'pauses' deliveries

The safety crisis at Boeing has led to aircraft shortages, which could cause a wave of cancellations this summer as Britons prepare for their holiday getaways.

This has not been helped by a string of incidents involving Boeing planes, with May seeing at least four - with three coming in just two days.

In Turkey on May 9, a Boeing plane's tyre burst on the runway after landing.

That same day, shocking footage emerged showing the moment terrified passengers fled a burning Boeing 737-300 jet carrying 78 passengers that skidded off the runway and caught fire during take-off in Senegal.

These two incidents came after a FedEx plane made an emergency landing at Istanbul Airport on May 8, with video showing its nose skidding along the runway.

Video also captured flames shooting from the back of a Boeing 747-400 just last week on May 16, forcing the jet to make an emergency landing in Indonesia.

This is a breaking news story. More to follow...

Comment: One wonders whether, at some point, Boeing planes will have to be pulled from service, and what the subsequent disruption to travel will look like.

Full timeline of Boeing problems in 2024

January 5

On January 5, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 - a Boeing 737 Max 9 - lost a door plug at 16,000 feet on a flight from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California.

That part is designed to replace an unneeded emergency exit door, and it blew out within just 20 minutes of takeoff.

An emergency landing was required and the plane landed safely, but a teddy bear, two mobile phones, a child's t-shirt were all said to have have flown out during the incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded 171 of the 737 Max 9s in the aftermath and six of the flight's passengers went on to sue the airline.

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines also went on to find loose parts on their grounded jets' door plugs.

January 16

An anonymous whistleblower broke rank to say that the door plug blowout 'was Boeing's fault', rather than its supplier Spirit AeroSystems.

First reported by The Seattle Times, they claimed the fuselage panel was removed for repair then reinstalled improperly at its Washington factory

'The reason the door blew off is stated in black and white in Boeings own records,' they wrote on aviation site Leeham News.

'It is also very, very stupid and speaks volumes about the quality culture at certain portions of the business.'

February 6

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report said that the January 5 incident was down to four crucial bolds being missing from the panel which blew out.

February 21

Boeing's 737 Max program chief, Ed Clark, was reportedly fired in a structural shakeup at the company.

Clark was also general manager at the company's Renton, Washington, facility and had been at Boeing for 18 years.

He was replaced by Katie Ringgold, while a 'senior vice president of quality' role was created too.

March 3

A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 veered off the runway after landing in Houston due to some sort of gear collapse.

Shocking footage showed the plane lying flat on its wings on grass by the side of the runway, while passengers were hurried off from an emergency gate ladder.

March 4

An audit by the FAA of both Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems 'found multiple instances where the companies allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements'.

March 6

The head of the NTSB accused Boeing of 'not cooperating' with its investigation into the January incident.

Jennifer Homendy said investigators sought the names of the 25 people who work on door plugs at the Renton facility, but had not received them from Boeing.

She told a Senate Committee hearing 'it is absurd that two months later we don't have it'.

However, Boeing spokesperson Connor Greenwood pushed back and insisted that names of employees were provided 'early in the investigation'.

The same day, a 737's engine caught fire in mid-air above Texas, causing an emergency landing minutes into its journey to Fort Myers, Florida.

March 7

A wheel fell off a Boeing 777-200 shortly after takeoff from San Francisco, crushing cars below.

The plane with 235 passengers and 14 crew diverted to Los Angeles Airport after it was alerted to the landing gear failure and landed safely with no further incident and no injuries reported on the ground.

March 9

Boeing whistleblower John Barnett, 62 - a former quality control manager and employee of 32 years - was found dead in his truck outside a South Carolina hotel days after testifying against the company in a lawsuit.

The coroner put it down to a 'self-inflicted' gunshot wound in the head, though the police confirmed that they would investigate further.

Barnett had made a string of complaints to his higher-ups in his time as a quality control manager before leaving the company on health grounds in 2017.

In January 2024, he appeared on TMZ to say that the 737 Max 9 aircraft were being launched back into the air too soon in the wake of the accident, suggesting corners had been cut.

March 11

A Boeing 777 was was forced to land due to hydraulic fluid spewing from its landing gear area.

The forced landing happened as the San Francisco-bound 777-300 embarked from Sydney, with fluid filmed leaking from its undercarriage.

March 15

A United Airlines 737 was grounded after it was found to be missing a panel after it touched down successfully in Medford Airport, Oregon, despite the missing part.

March 20

A Boeing 737 900 bound for Atlanta was forced to turn back and make an emergency landing after an engine blow out on take-off from Aruba.

The Delta flight circled the Caribbean island four times before coming back into land following the 'mechanical issue'.

March 29

United Airlines flight 990 - a Boeing 777-200 - from San Francisco to Paris had to touch down early in Denver after engine problems.

April 4

Alaska Airlines announced that they had received $160 million in compensation from Boeing after their 737 Max 9s were grounded following the January 5 door blowout.

The amount was equal to the revenue lost according to a filing from the airline, but Alaska added that it anticipated receiving extra compensation too.

April 10

Another whistleblower, Sam Salehpour, came forward in a Senate committee hearing to accuse Boeing of taking shortcuts when building its 777 and 787 Dreamliner jets and added that the company had retaliated against him when he raised concerns.

He doubled down on the claims a week later, adding on NBC that 787s should be grounded fearing 'fatal flaws' which could case them to fall apart mid-air.

In a 1,500 word statement, Boeing said it was 'fully confident' in the 787 and called concerns about structural integrity 'inaccurate.'

April 11

An internal Boeing review in response to an initial Wall Street Journal investigation found that CEO Dave Calhoun and other bosses at the aviation firm spent $500,000 on company private jets for personal trips which were improperly recorded as business travel.

Boeing's review concluded that some of the flights taken by executives in 2021 and 2022 'were not previously classified as perquisites by the company'.

In the company's proxy filing on April 5, Boeing said that these flights 'should have been classified as such in accordance with SEC rules and guidance'.

April 16

United Airlines indicated it will reduce reliance on Boeing after announcing a $124m loss in the first quarter of 2024, which it blamed on the scandal-laden manufacturer.

April 24

Boeing's CEO assured investors after a first-quarter loss of $355m was announced which coincided with a six per cent dip in share prices.

Calhoun added that he had a successor lined up for his departure at the end of 2024 who would come from inside the company.

April 26

Delta flight 520 was forced to make an emergency landing at JFK Airport when an emergency slide fell off the Boeing 767 an hour into its journey to Los Angeles.

FAA records indicated that the plane was 33 years old.

April 30

A second whistleblower, Joshua Dean, died suddenly aged 45 having raised the alarm about supposed defects in 737 Max jets.

The former Spirit employee previously said he was fired from his quality auditing role for questioning standards at the supplier's plant in Wichita, Kansas, in October 2022.

His family said on social media that Dean died in hospital after a sudden illness.

Earlier in 2024, Dean spoke with NPR about being fired. 'I think they were sending out a message to anybody else. If you are too loud, we will silence you,' he said.

May 6

The US Federal Aviation Administration revealed it has opened an investigation into Boeing after the company reported that workers at a South Carolina plant falsified inspection records on certain 787 planes.

Boeing said its engineers have determined that misconduct did not create 'an immediate safety of flight issue'.

No planes have been taken out of service, but having to perform the test out of order on planes will slow the delivery of jets still being built at the final assembly plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Boeing must also create a plan to address planes that are already flying, the FAA said.

May 8

A FedEx Airlines Boeing cargo plane landed at Istanbul Airport without the front landing gear deployed and managed to stay on the runway, Turkey's transport ministry said, adding that there were no casualties.

The Boeing 767 aircraft, flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, informed the traffic control tower at Istanbul Airport that its landing gear failed to open and it landed with guidance from the tower, the ministry said in its statement.

Airport rescue and fire fighting teams made necessary preparations on the runway before landing, and no one was injured, the ministry also said, without giving a reason for the failure.

Footage showed sparks flying and smoke billowing as the front end of the plane scraped along the runway before being doused with firefighting foam.

May 9

A Corendon Airlines Boeing 737 plane's front tire burst upon landing at an airport in southern Turkey on Thursday, the Turkish transport minister said, adding there were no casualties and all 190 passengers and crew were evacuated.

The front landing gear strut was damaged on the Corendon Airlines plane, arriving from Cologne, Germany, as it landed at Alanya-Gazipasa airport in Antalya.

The same day, a Boeing passenger plane came off the runway during takeoff from Dakar international airport, injuring 11 people and shutting the hub for hours.

The Air Senegal flight was bound for the Malian capital Bamako and had 78 passengers on board, plus a crew of six including two pilots, airport management company LAS said in a statement.

Images showed the aircraft in an overgrown area with first aiders surrounding an injured person. Smoke and flames are also visible near the plane.

Also on May 9, the US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating statements made by Boeing Co. about its safety practices after a mid-air panel blowout on a 737 MAX flight in January.

The SEC will examine whether the planemaker or its executives misled investors in violation of the Wall Street regulator's rules, the report said, citing three people familiar with the development.

May 14

Boeing has violated a settlement that allowed the company to avoid criminal prosecution after two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max aircraft more than five years ago, the Justice Department told a federal judge.

It is now up to the Justice Department (DOJ) to decide whether to file charges against Boeing. Prosecutors will tell the court no later than July 7 how they plan to proceed, the department said.