PETALING JAYA, June 8 — The 21 cabin crew aboard MH01 had been trained to deal with turbulence but Sunday’s ordeal was the worst they had ever experienced.
Some were badly shaken as the plane dived and was pulled up sharply while they were serving food to passengers.
A crew member, who requested anonymity, said the experience was frightening and “the worst we had ever gone through in our flying experience”.
“Many of us had experienced turbulence before but this was very violent. The aircraft shook as the pilots tried to regain control,” she said.
“While we had no doubt at any time that we would be safe, some passengers panicked and started screaming.”
Another member of the crew said the turbulence hit the aircraft suddenly.
“Normally, there would be an announcement and everyone would be told to strap in. But this time around, there was no warning and the fasten seat belt sign did not come on,” she said.
“The turbulence happened just before we began distributing food to passengers with things suddenly flying around.”
The crew member said it was fortunate that most passengers had been seated “but yet some got bumped around quite badly”.
She said the situation was chaotic with food being thrown down the aisle and the food trolley rolling down on its own volition.
It is learnt that pilots are trained to change altitude and slow down to a “turbulence penetration speed” to deal with severe turbulence and prevent damage to the airframe.
They are taught how to ride out the episode rather than wrestle the aircraft through high winds.
The crew members agreed that skilled handling by the captain and three other pilots had averted what could have been a potential disaster.
“We are thankful the pilots managed to get the situation under control. It was bad for a few minutes and then there was calm,” she said.
“We took stock of the situation and fortunately no one was seriously hurt.”
MH01 enroute from London to Kuala Lumpur experienced severe turbulence over the Bay of Bengal resulting in at least five passengers hurt. They were taken to Putrajaya Hospital for treatment.
In a statement, Malaysia Airlines Berhad said a small number of affected passengers and crew were given medical assistance when the aircraft with 378 passengers and crew landed at KLIA at 6pm.
The airline apologised for inconvenience caused by the rough weather which it said was entirely beyond its control.
Netizens praised the crew on the airline’s Facebook page for their skilled handling of the situation. Good job by the pilot and air crew. Glad everyone is safe … welcome home,” posted Felicia Wong.
Jerry Connell said the pilots and air crew were professionals and urged the company to keep up the good work.
“Salute to the flight crew. Keep it up MAS, you have done your best to keep the airplane safe,” he said.
Muhammad Hafni Ibrahim, who had been flying with Malaysia Airlines since 1974, said the crew handled the situation admirably.
Former Singapore Airlines stewardess Lee Nicole posted she would continue to fly with MAS.
“If we as Malaysians do not have confidence and support our airline, how can we expect others to do so?” she asked. – Malay Mail Online