CAAM leaves mandatory seat belt rule to airlines to curb air turbulence injuries

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — It is up to the respective airline companies to decide on whether or not to make seat belts a must-wear for passengers throughout a flight, the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) has said.

Its CEO Datuk Norazman Mahmud said CAAM will not compel Malaysian airline companies to require their passengers to wear seat belts throughout the flight to reduce the risk of injuries during air turbulence or other incidents, New Straits Times reported today.

“At the moment, yes, we will not make it mandatory. We need to review and engage with all stakeholders. It is up to them if airlines want to make it mandatory,” he was quoted as saying.

Norazman said that presently, the pilot-in-command is empowered under CAAM’s Civil Aviation Directive to tell passengers when to put on their seat belts while on board a plane; usually during take-off and landings and also any emergency situation.

Malaysia’s civil aviation regulator was weighing in after Singapore Airlines tweaked its in-flight seat belt sign policies last Friday following a severe turbulence incident which left a 73-year-old British passenger dead and dozens more hospitalised for various injuries.

The SQ321 London-Singapore flight on a Boeing 777-300ER plane carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew was diverted to Bangkok, Thailand for an emergency landing last Tuesday.

The plane was buffeted by turbulence that flung passengers and crew around the cabin, slamming some into the ceiling.

Pictures inside the plane after it landed in Bangkok showed the cabin in chaos, strewn with food, drinks and luggage, and with oxygen masks dangling from the ceiling.

Media reports cited Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital director Adinun Kittiratanapaibool saying of the passengers sent in for treatment, six people had skull and brain injuries, 22 suffered spinal injuries, and 13 for bone, muscle and other injuries.