Would you like tea or coffee with that, sir? The chaotic in-flight mess after sudden bout of turbulence hit jet as dinner was served
- Meals ended up in aisles and coffee on the ceiling after plane lost altitude
- Eleven passengers and one crew member were injured on the flight
- One passenger took pictures of the mess and posted them online
Passengers on a recent Singapore Airlines flight were left surrounded by a chaotic mess after their flight fell 20 metres when it hit severe turbulence.
A total of 11 passengers and one crew member were injured on flight SQ308 from Singapore to London last Sunday.
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Alan Cross told ABC News that passengers had been warned to expect turbulence and that the breakfast service would be temporarily suspended.
A short while after the seat belt sign came on, the captain issued an abrupt order for all flight attendants to take their seats immediately.
Mr Cross said the subsequent turbulence felt 'like being in an elevator with a cut cable or free-falling from some amusement park ride.'
He said everything that was not tied down, including people, hit the ceiling.
The airline told The Australian: 'Eleven passengers and one crew member sustained minor injuries when the aircraft experienced a sudden loss of altitude and were attended to by medical personnel on arrival at Heathrow Airport. Seat-belt signs were on at the time and meal services had already been suspended.'
HOW TURBULENCE CAN STRIKE AIRCRAFT AT ANY TIME
The phenomenon is most common in jet streams and near mountain ranges, as these tend to cause more disruption in the air.
Turbulence can also be caused by thunderstorms, although these are more easily avoided as they can be tracked by technology.
It is experienced on nearly every commercial flight, but is usually not dangerous as pilots can escape it within minutes.
However, a tiny handful of incidents have caused serious injuries or even death.
BOAC Flight 911 crashed near Mt Fuji in Japan in 1966 after flying through severe storms, killing all 124 people on board.
More recently, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 826 died from her injuries in 1997 after the aircraft dropped 30 metres in the middle of the flight.
Mr Cross said: 'The cabin crew was amazing in the aftermath, as were fellow passengers who helped everyone around them then in a calm and efficient clean-up.'
He said crew checked for injuries before cleaning up the mess and gave passengers boxes of chocolates as they departed at Heathrow, where they were met by paramedics.
The vast majority of passengers are not affected by turbulence on anything like this scale, but some research suggests that unsettled flights could become the norm thanks to global warming.
Earlier this year scientists claimed climate change could result in flights from London to New York getting much bumpier in the future.
Researchers from East Anglia and Reading universities analysed supercomputer simulations of the atmospheric jet stream over the North Atlantic, concluding that climate change will increase air turbulence.
They found the chances of hitting significant turbulence will rise by 40 to 170 per cent by 2050, with the likeliest outcome being a doubling of the airspace containing significant turbulence at any time.
Dr Paul Williams from the University of Reading and the University of East Anglia’s Dr Manoj Joshi said the average strength of turbulence will also increase, by between 10 and 40 per cent.
Dr Williams said: ‘Most air passengers will have experienced the uncomfortable feeling of mid-flight air turbulence. Our research suggests that we'll be seeing the “fasten seatbelts” sign turned on more often in the decades ahead.'