Singapore Airlines Flight 006

Singapore Airlines Flight 006
Singapore Airlines Flight 006

9V-SPK at Frankfurt Airport in April 1999
Occurrence summary
Date 31 October 2000 (2000-10-31)
Type Pilot error, Runway confusion, ATC Error, Poor Airport Lighting
Site Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (now Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport)
Passengers 159
Crew 20
Injuries 71
Fatalities 83
Survivors 96
Aircraft type Boeing 747-412
Operator Singapore Airlines
Tail number 9V-SPK
Flight origin Singapore Changi Airport
Last stopover Chiang Kai-shek International Airport
Destination Los Angeles International Airport

Singapore Airlines Flight 006 (SQ006) was a scheduled passenger flight from Singapore Changi Airport to Los Angeles International Airport via Chiang Kai-shek Airport (now Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport) in Taiwan. On 31 October 2000, at 15:17 UTC, 23:17 Taipei local time, a Boeing 747-412[1] on the route attempted to take off from the wrong runway in Taipei during a typhoon, destroying the aircraft and killing 83 of the 179 occupants.

SQ006 was the first fatal crash of a Singapore Airlines aircraft; prior to the SQ006 crash, the sole fatal incident involving SIA was the crash of SilkAir Flight 185, operated by subsidiary SilkAir.[2]



The path of Typhoon Xangsane

At 15:00 UTC, 23:00 Taipei local time on 31 October 2000, 9V-SPK, a Boeing 747-400 delivered on 21 January 1997,[3] left Bay B5 [4] during heavy rain caused by Typhoon Xangsane. At 23:05:57, the CKS Airport cleared the aircraft to taxi to runway 05L via "taxiway Sierra Sierra West Cross" and "November Papa".[4] At 23:15:22, the airport cleared the aircraft to takeoff at 05L.[4] Many carriers in Southeast and East Asia take off during inclement weather.[5] 9V-SPK had its last maintenance check on 16 September 2000, and had no defects.[6]

After a six-second hold, at 23:16:36, the crew attempted takeoff on runway 05R, which had been closed for repairs, instead of the assigned runway 05L (which runs parallel to 05R). The captain, Foong Chee Kong, correctly heard that he needed to take off at 05L, but he turned 215 metres (705 ft) too soon and lined up with 05R.[7] The airport was not equipped with ASDA, a ground radar which allows the airport controllers to monitor aircraft movements on the ground.[8]

Diagram of Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (now Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport) and the taxi path of Singapore Airlines Flight 006. The dotted green line indicates the correct path to Runway 05L. The yellow arrow indicates the path to Runway 05R. The red path indicates the fatal takeoff path.

Due to poor visibility in the heavy rain, the flight crew did not see that construction equipment, including two excavators, two vibrating rollers, one small bulldozer, and one air compressor,[3] had been parked on runway 05R. In addition, the runway contained concrete jersey barriers and pits.[4] About 41 seconds later,[4] the aircraft collided with the machinery and broke into pieces. The fuselage was torn in two, and the engines and landing gear separated.[4] A crane tore the left wing from the aircraft, forcing the jet back on to the ground.[9] The nose struck a scoop loader.[10] A large fire followed, destroying the forward section of the fuselage and the wings.[4] 79 of 159 passengers and 4 of 20 crew members died in the accident. Many of the dead were seated in the middle section of the aircraft;[3] the fuel stored in the wings exploded and sent balls of flame through that section.[11] At 23:17:36, the emergency bell sounded. 41 fire fighting vehicles, 58 ambulances, 9 lighting units, and 4,336 personnel were dispatched to assist survivors and extinguish the fire. Chemical extinguishing agents rained on the aircraft at about three minutes after the impact.[4] At 23:35, roughly 10 minutes after the impact, the fire was brought under control.[4] At 23:40, non-airport ambulances and emergency vehicles from other agencies congregated at the north gate. At 00:00 Taipei time on 1 November, the fire was mostly extinguished and the front part of the aircraft was destroyed. Authorities established a temporary command centre.[4]

Immediate news reports incorrectly stated that the Singapore Airlines jet hit one or two aircraft on the tarmac, with one being a China Airlines jet "2601TW";[12] no other aircraft were involved in the Singapore crash.[13]

A passenger of China Airlines Flight 004 recorded a video of Singapore Airlines Flight 006 on fire.[14]


Rescuers retrieving a casualty from the wreckage.

179 passengers and crew[15], including 3 children and 3 infants, [14] were on the aircraft at the time of the crash. Of the 179 occupants, 83 were killed, 39 suffered from serious injuries, 32 had minor injuries, while 25 were uninjured.[16] Amongst those who perished, there were 4 crew members. 79 passengers and crew died on impact and immediately after the crash and 2 passengers died at a hospital.[11]

The passengers mostly consisted of Taiwanese and Americans.[17]

Nationalities of passengers and crew

Nationality Passengers Crew Total
Total Killed Total Killed Total Killed
 Australia 1 0 0 0 1 0
 Cambodia 1 0 0 0 1 0
 Canada 1 0 0 0 1 0
 Germany 1 0 0 0 1 0
 India 11 10 0 0 11 10
 Indonesia 5 1 0 0 5 1
 Ireland 1 0 0 0 1 0
 Japan 1 1 0 0 1 1
 Malaysia 8 4 1 0 9 4
 Mexico 3 0 0 0 3 0
 Netherlands 1 1 0 0 1 1
 New Zealand 2 0 0 0 2 0
 Philippines 1 1 0 0 1 1
 Singapore 11 8 17 4 28 12
 Spain 1 0 0 0 1 0
 Republic of China (Taiwan) 55 26 2 0 57 26
 Thailand 2 0 0 0 2 0
 United Kingdom 4 2 0 0 4 2
 United States 47 24 0 0 47 24
 Vietnam 2 1 0 0 2 1
Total 159 79 20 4 179 83

Amongst the Singaporeans who perished were Mrs. Elma Thwaites, mother of Singapore Turf Club horse-trainer Malcolm Thwaites, Dr. Sung Kah Kay, assistant professor of the National University of Singapore's Department of Computer Science,[18][19][20] and Captain Lim Kim Hock, a Republic of Singapore Air Force pilot on his way to the Air National Guard to attend the Advanced Fighter Weapons Instructor Course.[21] In addition, four of the dead were Motorola employees.[22][23] Sung's wife, Jennifer Loo (a.k.a. Loo Tak Wing), also died on the flight.[24]

Amongst perished passengers of other nationalities were the president and two vice presidents of Buena Park, California-based Ameripec Inc.[25] Kevin Rice, a professor at UC Davis, survived the crash with more than 12% of his body burned,[26] as did John Diaz, a vice president of, who survived the crash with injuries not related to burns.[27] William Wang, who later founded Vizio, survived with only carbon monoxide poisoning."[28]

Origin of passengers and crew and types of injuries sustained

Diagram of 9V-SPK illustrating crew and passenger seat locations, lack of injury, severity of injuries, and deaths.

The captain, relief pilot, Ng Kheng Leng, and co-pilot, Latiff Cyrano, originated from Singapore on the 30 October SQ 006, rested at a hotel in Taipei, and boarded the 31 October SQ 006.[3] The crew consisted of 12 males and 8 females.[15] Of the flight crew, 2 males and 2 females died.[19] The co-pilot received minor injuries. The pilot and relief pilot sustained no injuries.[3] Of the 17 cabin crew members, 4 died, 4 received serious injuries, and 9 received minor injuries.[3]

Of the passengers, 79 died, 35 received serious injuries, 22 received minor injuries, and 23 were uninjured.[3]

The aircraft had 5 first-class passengers, 28 business-class passengers (9 on lower deck and 19 on upper deck), and 126 economy-class passengers.[3][29] Of the first class passengers, 1 received a minor injury and 4 received no injuries. Of the business-class passengers, 14 (2 on lower deck, 12 on upper deck) died, 2 (1 on lower deck, 1 on upper deck) received serious injuries, 7 (2 on lower deck, 5 on upper deck) received minor injuries, and 8 (4 on lower deck, 4 on upper deck) were uninjured. Of the economy class passengers, 65 died, 33 received serious injuries, 14 received minor injuries, and 11 were uninjured.[3] The lower deck passengers who died were seated in rows 22 through 38.[3][30] 64 of 76 passengers in the forward economy section were killed by the explosion of the centre fuel tank, which resulted in intense fire.[31] In the upper deck of the business class section, 12 of 19 passengers and 1 of 2 flight attendants died due to smoke inhalation and fire;[31] 10 bodies, originating from the upper deck of business class, were found between the stairwell and the 2L exit on the main deck.[32] All passengers in the aft economy section survived.[31]

Of the passengers on the TPE-LAX leg, 77 flew from Singapore and 82 flew from Taipei. Of the passengers originating from Singapore, 37 died. Of the passengers originating from Taipei, 42 died.[19] Of the three male passengers identified as infants, including two Indians originated from Singapore and one Taiwanese originated from Taipei, all three died.[19]

The Department of Forensic Pathology Institute of Foreign Medicine, Ministry of Justice performed seven autopsies. One person died from impact injuries, and six people died from severe burns.[3] Many passengers on the flight sustained burns since jet fuel splashed onto the passengers.[33]

Lin Ming-liang, a 45-year old Taiwanese passenger bearing burns to more than 86% of his body, died of his injuries at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Linkou, Taipei County (now New Taipei City) on Sunday 5 November 2000.[34] Lee Suet Yee,[35] a hospitalized Singaporean woman bearing burns to 95% of her body, died of her injuries in a Taiwanese hospital on 24 November 2000.[36][37]

Diaz did not receive burns; he received lung damage and "body shock," which resulted in compressed joints with soft tissue damage.[27] When Diaz appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show, he used a walker.[38]

A Taiwanese couple who survived the incident stated that they chose to fly Singapore Airlines because of the airline's safety record.[39]

Investigation findings

SQ006 9V-SPK; the broken off tail section of the aircraft.

An investigation into the accident was conducted by the Aviation Safety Council (ASC) of the Republic of China. The final report was issued by the ASC on 24 April 2002. In the report section "Findings Related to Probable Causes," which detailed factors that played a major role in the circumstances leading to the accident, it was stated that the flight crew did not review the taxi route, despite having all the relevant charts, and as a result did not know the aircraft had entered the wrong runway. Upon entering the wrong runway, the flight crew had neglected to check the paravisual display (PVD) and the primary flight display (PFD), which would have indicated that the aircraft was lined up on the wrong runway. According to the ASC, these errors, coupled with the imminent arrival of the typhoon and the poor weather conditions, caused the flight crew to lose situational awareness and led them to attempt to take off from the wrong runway.[40]

Notification of details

Immediately after the accident occurred, James Boyd,[33] a Singapore Airlines spokesperson in Los Angeles, stated that no fatalities occurred in the crash;[11][41][42] the airline statement revised to state that fatalities occurred.

The airline initially stated that reports of the aircraft taking the wrong runway were untrue before the fact that the wrong runway was used was proven true.[43]

Khan Mahmood, an Atlanta man whose sister and parents died on SQ006, criticised the airline for taking too much time to notify relatives.[44]

A counseling center opened at Los Angeles International Airport to deal with relatives of passengers.[45]

Relatives of victims provided blood samples in order to identify bodies.[46]

Contesting investigation findings

The report by ASC was deemed controversial by Singapore's Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (now Ministry of Transport), Singapore Airlines and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA), among others.[citation needed]

Singaporean officials protested that the report did not present a full account of the incident and was incomplete, as responsibility for the accident appeared to have been placed mainly on the flight crew of SQ006, while other equally valid contributing factors had been played down. The team from Singapore that participated in the investigation felt that the lighting and signage at the airport did not measure up to international standards. Some critical lights were missing or not working. No barriers or markings were put up at the start of the closed runway, which would have alerted the flight crew that they were on the wrong runway. The Singapore team felt that these two factors were given less weight than was proper, as another flight crew had almost made the same mistake of using runway 05R to take off days before the accident.[citation needed]

Singapore Airlines also issued a statement after the release of the ASC report. In their statement, Singapore Airlines reiterated the points brought up by the Singapore investigators and added that air traffic control (ATC) did not follow their own procedure when they gave clearance for SQ006 to take off despite ATC's not being able to see the aircraft. Singapore Airlines also clarified that the paravisual display (PVD) was meant to help the flight crew maintain the runway centreline in poor visibility, rather than to identify the runway in use.[47]

The statement by Kay Yong (戎凱 Rēng Kǎi), managing director of the Republic of China's Aviation Safety Council, implied that pilot error played a major role in the crash of the Boeing 747-400, which led to the deaths of 83 people. He stated that the airport should have placed markers stating that the runway was closed to takeoffs and landings.[48]

In general, airport runways that are closed are not normally lighted, to make it clear they are not in use. At Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport, a single switch controlled green lights on the common taxiway to both runways and on the centreline of runway 05R. Civil Aeronautics Administration Deputy Director Chang Kuo-cheng said runway 05L was fully lit on Tuesday night by white and yellow lights and only the green centreline lighting was illuminated on closed runway 05R. On the taxiway to the runways, four large signs point the way to runway 05L, he added, and he refused to state explicitly that pilot error was the primary cause of the mix-up.[citation needed]

Runway 05R was not blocked off by barriers because part of the strip was used by landing planes to taxi back to the airport terminal. The pilot confirmed twice with the control tower that he was on the correct runway; controllers did not know the plane had actually gone on to the wrong runway because the airport lacked ground radar and the plane was out of sight of the tower at the time of its takeoff.[citation needed]

Actions of flight crew and flight attendants

Steven Courtney and John D. Wiggans, survivors of the crash, stated in a USA Today article that the staff were unable to help the passengers escape from the aircraft due to being frozen by fear and/or due to lack of competence in emergency procedures; Wiggans was seated in the upper deck business class area.[49] The Straits Times carried reports of flight attendants saving lives of passengers.[50][51] One story from the newspaper stated that Irene Ang (a.k.a. Ang Miau Lee) escaped the crash, ran back into the aircraft to attempt to save passengers, and died.[52]

The Australian reported that some flight attendants helped passengers and some flight attendants fled the aircraft before all passengers were accounted for.[49] Genevieve Jiang of The Electric New Paper stated that the pilots attempted to help the passengers.[53]

The Taiwanese report stated that the relief pilot (Crew Member 3, or CM-3) said in an interview that he was the first to leave the cockpit and the last to leave the aircraft [3] (Pg. 108/508). A passenger sitting in seat 17A stated that the Right Upper Deck Door flight attendant directed him to the main deck via the stairs. The flight attendant died [3] (Pg. 108/508).

Upper deck passengers and flight attendants stated that the Crew-In-Charge flight attendant (CIC) traveled upstairs after the first impact; the Crew-In-Charge flight attendant died [3] (Pg. 109/508).

The 3R and 3L flight attendants died; they were seated in the middle of the aircraft [3] (Pg. 110/508).


A Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 in its normal livery. Following the crash of SQ006, the airline removed the tropical livery given to SPK's sister ship.

After the release of the ASC report, Republic of China public prosecutors called upon the flight crew of SQ006 to return to the ROC for questioning and the three-member crew complied. Rumours abounded during that period that the pilots might be detained in the ROC and charged with negligence. IFALPA had previously stated that it would advise its members of the difficulties of operating into the ROC if the flight crew of SQ006 were prosecuted. The prosecutors did not press charges and the flight crew were allowed to leave the ROC.[citation needed]

Singapore Airlines changed the flight route designation to SQ030 immediately after the incident, and then later to SQ028. The TPE-LAX route was operated by Boeing 777 aircraft until its demise on October 1, 2008. Flights to Los Angeles continues to be served nonstop as Flight 38 and with a stopover at Tokyo Narita Airport as Flight 12.

The accident aircraft 9V-SPK was painted in Singapore Airlines special promotion livery, a scheme called "Tropical", at the time of the accident. The special livery was intended to promote Singapore Airlines new first class and new business class products. After the accident, 9V-SPK's sister aircraft, 9V-SPL, the only other aircraft painted with the promotional livery, was immediately removed from service and repainted with standard Singapore Airlines livery. No special promotion livery has been introduced on any Singapore Airlines's aircraft since the accident.[citation needed]

Dozens of survivors and relatives of those killed filed lawsuits against the airline and ROC authorities.[54] Singapore Airlines denied culpability and the captain and first officer were subsequently fired by the airline.[55]

The Association of Asian American Yale Alumni named the Tina E. Yeh Community Service Fellowship program after Tina Eugenia Yeh, an American who boarded SQ006 in Taipei and died.[56][57]

Runway 05R at TPE has been converted to taxiway NC and runway 05L has been renamed to runway 05.[citation needed]

Repatriation and distribution of bodies

Rows of coffins and grieving kin of the deceased.

By 8 November 2000, several bodies were scheduled to be repatriated. Of the bodies:[58]

  • 19, including 14 Americans, 3 Taiwanese, and 2 Indians, were repatriated to the United States
  • 13, including 11 Singaporeans, 1 British, and 1 American, were repatriated to Singapore
  • 10, including 8 Indians and 2 Americans, were repatriated to India
  • 4 were repatriated to Malaysia [59]
  • 3 Americans were repatriated to Canada
  • 1 was repatriated to Indonesia [59]
  • 1 was repatriated to Japan [59]
  • 1 was repatriated to the Netherlands [59]
  • 1 was repatriated to the United Kingdom
  • 1 was repatriated to Vietnam [59]

The bodies of 14 Taiwanese passengers remained in Taipei to be collected by relatives.[58]

Hospitalization and release of survivors

By 2 November 2000, 40 passengers and crew were hospitalized, of whom 11 were later released that night.[60] On 5 November 2000, 34 passengers and crew remained hospitalized. 64 were discharged from the hospitals.[61] Lin Ming-liang, a Taiwanese passenger, died that day. On 8 November 2000, 14 passengers and crew remained hospitalized: 20 in the Republic of China (Taiwan), 3 in Singapore and 1 in United States.[58]The Republic of Singapore Air Force deployed a specially configured KC-135R for the medical evacuation of critical Singaporean victims. 73 survivors, 40 who were not hospitalized and 33 who were discharged, had either returned home or continued with their travel. Lee Suet Yee, a Singaporean woman hospitalized in Taipei on 8 November, died on 24 November 2000.[36]


The film Thread That Binds includes an interview of Farzana Abdul Razak, a surviving flight attendant.[62]

See also

  • Comair Flight 5191, which crashed near Lexington, Kentucky, after using the wrong runway for takeoff.
  • UPS Airlines Flight 6, another fatal aviation accident involving a Boeing 747-400 with the same flight number.
  • List of accidents and incidents on commercial airliners
  • Air safety


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External links

Investigation reports
Singapore Airlines press statements
Court documents
Cockpit voice recorder data
News and media articles
Other links

Coordinates: 25°04′53″N 121°13′48″E / 25.0815°N 121.2300°E / 25.0815; 121.2300

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