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Singapore Airlines Introduces New Safety Measures Following Deadly Turbulence Incident

Photo : Reuters

Singapore: Following a deadly turbulence incident on May 21 that left a passenger dead and dozens injured on Flight SQ321 from London to Singapore, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has put more comprehensive safety measures in place. These measures include the suspension of meal service and a mandate for cabin crew members to buckle up whenever the seat-belt sign is turned on, according to a report by The Straits Times.

Previously, SIA’s in-flight service protocol only restricted the serving of hot drinks and soup when the seatbelt sign was on, allowing other services to continue at the crew's discretion. However, the new regulations require a complete pause in meal service during turbulence. This change has sparked mixed reactions from frequent fliers and crew members, with some describing the move as hasty and noting its impact on service quality and crew stress levels.

The incident that prompted these changes occurred on a flight passing over the Andaman Sea, a region known for turbulence. One flight attendant recounted experiencing over an hour of turbulence on a recent three-and-a-half-hour flight from Singapore to India, which significantly shortened the time available for meal service. Passengers, unaware of the new safety measures, often rated the service as average to poor due to disruptions caused by turbulence.

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Crew members have expressed concerns about the increased stress and fatigue resulting from these new protocols. One flight steward mentioned adjustments being made to manage the limited time for meal service, such as removing after-take-off drinks. Despite these challenges, some passengers remain understanding of the situation, while others feel disappointed.

In response to the increased demands on cabin crew, in-flight managers have been checking on their well-being during pre-flight briefings. A counselling team has also been formed to support the crew, recognizing the added stress and fatigue they face under the new safety regulations.

John Tan, a lead professional officer teaching in the air transport management degree program at the Singapore Institute of Technology, emphasized the importance of adaptability in aviation safety. He noted that the policy change underscores the need for prompt responses to protect passengers and crew effectively, fostering a culture of continuous safety improvement.

However, Tan also acknowledged the challenge SIA faces in balancing safety and service quality. He suggested that the airline might need to retrain cabin crew to increase efficiency or modify service delivery methods without compromising quality. Restructuring the cabin layout could also be a possibility to better accommodate the new safety measures.

Despite these challenges, Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation consultancy Endau Analytics, believes that SIA's service quality will not be significantly affected by the new protocols. He stated that the decision to implement these measures was made after careful consideration and with the primary goal of preventing injuries to passengers and crew in the future.

In light of the changes, some netizens have suggested that passengers bring their own food and drinks on board, especially on short- and medium-haul flights, in case meal service is disrupted due to turbulence. This practical advice reflects the ongoing adjustments both passengers and crew must make as SIA navigates the balance between safety and service in response to this tragic incident.

May 30, 2024 10:54 a.m. 454

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