Singapore flight: Experienced pilot reveals what crew would have been doing during violent turbulence

Remy Varga
The Nightly
Sunrise has confirmed eight Australians have been hospitalized after a flight from London to Singapore was hit by extreme turbulence.

An experienced Qantas pilot has given an insight into what the crew on board the turbulence-hit Singapore Airlines flight would have been doing in the moments after it suddenly lost altitude, plunging nearly two kilometres within minutes.

Mark Hofmeyer, who is also the Australian and International Pilots Association vice president, said the pilot’s first priority would have been to regain control of the plane while the cabin crew would have been managing passengers experiencing what is known as the “startle effect”.

“Human beings like everyone else… they (the passengers) would have got a fright from it,” he said.

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“But ultimately, their focus to start with is regaining control of the airplane, getting things under control, and then obviously getting the aircraft into a safe position, and then they can start to worry about the safety of the passengers and the rest of the crew.”

Severe turbulence left one person dead and dozens injured.
Severe turbulence left one person dead and dozens injured. Credit: X formerly Twitter

As for the cause of the violent turbulence, Mr Hofmeyer said the pilots might have been blindsided as warm air rose during the flight.

“Potentially it could have been in the vicinity of a thunderstorm,” he said.

It’s believed a form of turbulence known as clear air turbulence is to blame.

Mr Hofmeyer said convective turbulence was related to the presence of clouds while clear air turbulence was related to air jet streams, which he said were a “really fast flowing band of air”.

“Often you actually use it (the jetstream) to your advantage if you want to fly from Perth to Sydney, it can be much quicker than going the other way,” he said.

“So often you will fly into that jet stream, but often sort of getting in and out of that jet stream. There can be turbulence, sometimes it’s not but it’s up to the pilots on the day to take the precautions required to make sure that everyone’s safe.”

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