CAAM: Seat belt rule up to airlines

KUALA LUMPUR: The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) will not compel Malaysian airline companies to require passengers to wear seat belts throughout the flight to reduce the risk of injuries during turbulence or other incidents.

Its chief executive officer, Captain Datuk Norazman Mahmud, said CAAM would leave such decisions to the respective airlines.

"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."

Currently, under CAAM's Civil Aviation Directive (CAD), the pilot-in-command shall ensure that during take-off and landing and whenever necessary by reason of turbulence or any emergency occurring, all passengers on board shall be secured in their seats using the seat belts or harnesses provided.

On Friday, Singapore Airlines tweaked its in-flight seat belt sign policies and altered at least one flight route after a severe turbulence incident left one person dead and dozens more hospitalised.

Photos taken 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.

The airline has adopted a more cautious approach to turbulence, including not serving hot drinks or meals when the seat belt sign is on, it said in a statement.

The SQ321 London-Singapore flight on a Boeing 777-300ER plane carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew was diverted to Bangkok for an emergency landing last Tuesday after the plane was buffeted by turbulence that flung passengers and crew around the cabin, slamming some into the ceiling.

It was also reported that Bangkok's Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital director Adinun Kittiratanapaibool said his staff were treating six people for skull and brain injuries, 22 for spinal injuries, and 13 for bone, muscle and other injuries.

A 73-year-old British man died and 104 people were injured on the flight.

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