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SQ321 passengers endured 62 seconds of turbulence, flight data shows

SINGAPORE – For one minute and two seconds, passengers on Singapore Airlines Flight SQ321 felt their plane shaken by sudden, extreme turbulence as they flew over the Irrawady Delta region of Myanmar on May 21.

Granular flight data from flight tracking website Flightradar24 shows that the Boeing 777-300ER climbed and descended rapidly twice in 62 seconds, starting at 3:49 pm Singapore time, as the plane neared the end of a non-stop flight from London to Singapore.

During this time, the aircraft climbed from its cruising altitude of 37,000 feet to 37,400 feet, and then descended to 36,975 feet before returning to its cruising altitude.

This indicates that it was the rapid transition between climb and descent caused by turbulence – and not the altitude change itself, which was relatively minor – that caused chaos in the cabin.

The Flightradar24 data, derived from a global network of ground-based receivers, satellites and radars that receive flight data from aircraft transponders, contradicts some previous reports, which noted that the plane descended from 37,000 feet to 31,000 feet between 4:06 p.m. and 4:10 p.m. as the cause of the injuries.

This latest transition, a commercial pilot told The Straits Times, appears to be the pilots conducting a controlled descent, probably to assess the situation before diverting to Bangkok.

The pilot, who has flown both civilian and military multi-engine airliners for more than 20 years and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the rapid climb would have introduced positive G-forces on passengers, making seated passengers feel like they were pinned in place. their seats.

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