Singapore Airlines A380 9V-SKB being unloaded at Delhi airport. Photo copyright Bangalore Aviation.

Seat-belt warning. Mumbai bound A380 suffers injuries during turbulence

Bangalore Aviation has always promoted the wearing of seat-belts when seated on-board an aircraft. An incident on-board a Mumbai bound flight highlights our safety campaign.

On Saturday October 18, 2014, at around 21:30 IST (16:00Z) approximately 30 minutes before arrival, a Singapore Airlines A380-800 9V-SKJ performing flight SQ424 from Singapore to Mumbai with 408 passengers and 25 crew on-board, suffered sudden severe turbulence during descent into Chhatrapati Shivaji airport without warning.

As per the airline spokesperson, eight passengers and 14 crew sustained injuries. The flight landed safely at the airport and the injured were treated by medical personnel on arrival. It is not clear if anyone required hospitalisation. We assume all the 14 crew injured were cabin crew since the flight crew is routinely strapped in their seats when seated.

Update: The airline responded (see full statement at the end of the story) to our follow-up questions after publication of this story and clarified – 10 of the 14 injured crew required hospitalisation but they have been cleared and discharged. All eight injured passengers were hospitalised. Six have been examined and discharged.

The airline issued a statement [bsu_quote cite=”Singapore Airlines spokesperson”] “Singapore Airlines flight SQ424 from Singapore to Mumbai experienced sudden turbulence during descent on 18 October. There were 408 passengers and 25 crew on board. Eight passengers and 14 crew sustained injuries and were attended to by medical personnel on arrival at Mumbai Airport.

Our immediate concern is for the well-being of our passengers and crew.

Singapore Airlines will provide full assistance to the authorities in their investigations.[/bsu_quote] The airline did not clarify the disposition of the crew. Mumbai is a rest-stop destination for the airline and crew changes for the return flight. It is remains unclear whether the injured crew returned back to Singapore immediately (i.e. ealy this morning) or stayed back in Mumbai with the rest of their crew-mates and will return early tomorrow morning. One would also assume the airline would send extra crew from Singapore to perform the duties of the injured crew for the return flight SQ423 early tomorrow morning.

The exact status of 9V-SKJ remains unknown. It it did perform the return flight SQ423, so we know it was not grounded at Mumbai. We learnt from the airline later, that the return flight was delayed by 53 minutes to deal with the injuries, clean up the aircraft and complete the needed formalities. One can be sure the SIA Engineering would repair the A380 through today at Singapore, and deploy it by afternoon or late evening.

Photos highlight damage and injuries

Photos sourced by Bangalore Aviation show damage to the overhead panels inside the aircraft, toilets and galley area. It shows how passengers would have been flung upwards striking their heads and torsos on the panels, and keep in mind the A380 is the world’s largest jetliner. Nature does pack a pretty powerful punch.

Update 12:45 (07:15Z)

The airline responded to follow-up questions.

Q. Did any of the injured require hospitalisation?
A.
-Of the 14 crew, 10 required hospitalisation. They have been cleared and discharged by the medical personnel.
– All 8 passengers were hospitalised and 6 have been discharged by the medical personnel after examination.

Q. What about the injured crew? Did they return back to Singapore or are they resting in Mumbai? Since BOM is a rest-stop destination, Will SQ [Singapore Airlines] send additional crew on tonight’s flight to supplement the injured crew for the return flight?
A. We are unable to share these details with you for crew confidentiality reasons.

All of us at Bangalore Aviation wish all the injured a quick and safe recovery.

For our readers we request you to spread the message

Always wear your seat belt when seated

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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8 comments

  1. Crap! Is that blood in the galley?

    • Yes. One of the crew hit his/her nose and that is nose-blood all over. It was looking tacky so we removed the pic. Trying to be a little more “sensitive” 😉

  2. I have seen a good number of passengers who think they are macho and don’t wear seat belts and think that those who wear are losers. Granted such accidents are rare as the pilots are well experienced and maneuver the planes well, but Mother nature is omnipotent that these can happen unexpectedly from high seas to low ground. I somehow wish that these type of stories make it prominently to all air travelers so that they not only don’t feel inferior to strap themselves when they sit inside the plane, and therefore avoid injuries to passengers surrounding them. I have seen this “macho attitude” more from people of Asian continent (includes all of Asia, including India and Middle East) than rest of the world.
    Thanks for posting this article, Devesh. Another good reminder for all air travelers.

  3. Sriram Sivaramakrishnan

    Wow! That too on an A380!!! Think if it had been a Embraer or an A320

  4. I was On-Board the flight SQ 424 on the 18th Oct., 2014, & am amongst the injured.

    Dear Friends,

    I was on-board the SQ 424 of 18th Oct., 2014, which met with the accident.

    I needed hospitalization, & have stitches on me – for no fault of my own.

    I have read the News reports & they ALL seem to be verbatim coming out of an official Singapore Airlines statement, where they (SQ) have tried to paint the blame on “Irresponsible Passengers” who have ignored the ‘Fasten Seat Belt’ sign.

    The fact is – The incident happened at about 9.00 pm IST, & there was no announcement/sign of ‘Fasten Seat Belt’, when the Aircraft tumbled up & down very very violently.

    The flight was still Mid-Air – on cruise – & it was announced that the descent into Mumbai would start in another 20 minutes. The passengers were advised to visit the Toilet, in case they needed to, since the “Fasten Seat Belt’ sign would be illuminated afterwards.

    I was in the toilet, when this sudden & very strong turbulence happened, & I was tossed-around; resulting in a broken & bleeding head, & bruises & injuries – all around.

    Fortunately, I hadn’t lost my consciousness & was able to drag myself out & dump myself in my seat (which was in the 2nd last row).

    I am disappointed to read reports that the DGCA has concluded that the incident happened during descent, owing to Passengers not fastening their seat-belts; which is totally base-less & un-true.

    This seems to be a clear case of ‘management’ of the incident by SIA.

    The real cause NEEDS to be investigated, & not hushed around.

    Upendra Singh.

    • I agree, that it sickening to experience turbulence(that too with injuries) , in contrast to a lot of articles, which say everything is fine and turbulence is “normal”. I understand from some of my crew friends( and also monitoring radio), that most “radar visible” turbulence can be managed with route deviations. The standard operating practice followed is to turn on seatbelt signs, warn the cabin crew and if there is not much time- make a crisp announcement . This sometimes seems difficult in crowded airspace over Mumbai, where there often a holding pattern with descent slabs. Clear Air Turbulence, seen some time at cruise altitudes often takes crew by surprise as it is invisible and is often reported by aircraft passing ahead.