Recently the crash of Singapore Airlines flight SQ006 in Taipei in 2000 was mentioned in the SPI public forums. According to the story, the crash of flight SQ006 may be caused supernaturally by an earlier tragedy that involved the Singapore Airlines (SIA); the murder of a SIA flight stewardess in Los Angeles. This story has been circulating on the Internet since 2001. It has gained popularity in Singapore and has even become an urban legend amongst flight crew members in SIA. Since the anniversary of both events is drawing near, SPI has decided to take a closer look at the story.
Murdered SIA Stewardness Came Back for Revenge?
Background information provided by the author sets the tone of the story:
Something Spooky Caused the Plane Crash?
The author of the story claims that the flight number, SQ006, was permanently removed from the SIA flight timetable after the crash investigations were completed. The story suggests that the reason behind this was because “something spooky” was discovered in the events leading to the doomed flight. However, the flight number SQ006 was changed after the accident because the flights had been re-routed to that of SQ030; the flight number was not replaced but discontinued. What had permanently changed in SIA after the crash was the discontinuation of painting any SIA aircraft with a promotion livery. At the time of the accident, the Boeing 747-412 9V-SPK aircraft that had operated on SQ006 flight was painted with a “Tropical” livery instead of the standard SIA livery. The “Tropical” livery was part of the airlines’ marketing exercise promoting its new First Class and Business Class seats. There was only one other SIA aircraft that was painted with a similar “Tropical” livery; the sister aircraft of the plane involved in the crash: 9V-SPL. After the accident, it was re-painted with the airlines’ original colours and SIA discontinued the use of any promotional livery on its aircraft, possibly in memory the tragedy.
SPI Debunks the Fallacies
The author of the story attempts to link another tragedy in the airlines’ history to the tragedy of SQ006. The murder of Chang Yu, an SIA stewardess, in 1995 received considerable media attention in Singapore. She was murdered by her SIA colleague who was later arrested in Singapore and extradited to the United States to face trial. According to the story, key dates in the murder case and the SQ006 crash looked like they are strangely and coincidentally related. However, when these coincidences were compared they become questionable. The crash of SQ006 took place on 31 October 2000, but the murder of Chang occurred on 25 October 1995; it was neither “on the date that SQ006 crashed” nor was the crash “exactly one year later on her death anniversary.” Finally, the air steward (whose name is Zaini Jeloni and there was no mention that he is an Eurasian), was released in the US on 8 January 2001 after serving a prison sentence for causing Chang’s death, not coincidentally on the same date of the SQ006 crash. The only coincidence that linked the two tragedies was the year when Jeloni was released from prison was also when this story was first circulated on the Internet.
The story claims that Chang’s body was found “dismembered” in a closet in her hotel room when in actual fact he body was found strangled with evidence of blunt trauma wounds to her head and stomach. The author went on suggest that the aircraft which repatriated Chang’s body back to Singapore was the same plane that crashed on 31 October 2000: “She [Chang] was flown back to Singapore on SQ 006 via Taipei� Exactly one year (31st October) later on her death anniversary, the plane crashed in Chang Kai Shek International Airport in Taipei.” The aircraft involved the accident, Boeing 747-412 9V-SPK, was delivered to SIA in January 1997, two years after the murder of Chang in Los Angeles. It could not have been the same aircraft that repatriated Chang’s body back to Singapore.
The author of the story also claims that both Chang and her mother were dressed in red when Chang’s body was repatriated to Singapore. For this claim we can only rely on the author’s research. Information of such nature is usually classified. It is worth mentioning that there is a popular belief in Singapore that if a deceased was dressed red at the time her dead or burial, she would return to seek vengeance on those who caused her death. The author had interestingly made special mention of this detail in the story. Clearly the author did not just casually mention the colour of their dresses; he/she was writing to a readership that would understand its connotations when he/she continues the story to suggest that the crash of SQ006 may have been caused by supernatural forces:
Loop-holes of the Story
The main concern and key factor that influenced the flight’s departure time was the approaching Typhoon Xangsane, which was making it increasingly hazardous for aircraft taking off or landing at the airport. The author of the story mentioned the typhoon and claimed that the pilot and flight crew had “decided to board the plane and depart 15 minutes early”. Commercial flights can only be delayed and they do not leave before the scheduled departure time. Imagine the chaos and confusion that it would cause to passengers and ground staff if a flight’s time of departure was determined solely by decisions made by the pilot and flight crew.
The official findings and reports of the SQ006 crash did not mention changes to the flight’s scheduled time of departure due to discrepancies with the passenger list and a headcount of passengers by the flight crew. If there were any discrepancy in the headcount would be reported immediately to the cockpit. The cockpit voice recorder recovered after the crash did not contain any communication between the pilots in the cockpit and the flight crew over any inconsistency with the passenger list and the passenger count.
According to the author of the story, the first half was told from the experiences of two junior stewardesses and a chief air stewardess just before the flight took off. In the story, the two junior stewardesses did not survive the crash. Of the four flight crew members who did not survive the crash two were flight stewardess, one however, was a Leading Stewardess, not a junior stewardess as the story had claimed. The second half of the story claimed that the male in-flight supervisor could “see things” and prior to the accident, he saw something that was amiss on the plane; a “lady flipping through the passenger list” who was not supposed to be there. The author implied that the in-flight supervisor may have seen a vision of a lady, possibly a vision of the flight stewardess murdered years earlier. These were revealed, the story went, during an interview with the in-flight supervisor who “was among the survivors left unscratched in the crash” because he was seated “in the back section of the economy class”. The official investigation reported that “Crew duty time, flight time, rest time and off-duty activity patterns did not indicate influence of pre-existing medical, behavioral, or physiological factors of the flight crew’s performance on the day of the incident. ” All interviews with surviving members of the flight crew after the crash were primarily focused on the emergency evacuations procedure of the flight. There was no account of an in-flight supervisor’s “visions” mentioned in the report. Moreover, a SIA flight crew servicing a Boeing 747 is led by one in-flight supervisor. During takeoff or landing, the in-flight supervisor usually takes his seat in the middle of the plane near the stairs leading to the upper deck, not at the rear of the plane in the economy class. And the in-flight supervisor on SQ006 on 31 October 2000 did not survive the accident. He could not have been interviewed by crash investigators.
SPI Separated the Truths and the Lies
The story contains a number of questionable points. There are no links between the murder case in 1995 and the crash of flight SQ006 that can even be considered coincidental. The story was also based on interviews and survivor accounts that did not exist. This is at best a fictional story with supernatural themes. However, creating a fictional story based on two tragedies, not to mention one that is also rather recent, trivialises these painful events and diminishes the memory of the victims. Of the two stewardesses who died in the accident, the Leading Stewardess survived the impact of the crash and returned into the plane wreckage to try and rescue survivors. She did not return alive. Her family and friends have known her to be passionate about her career with SIA. The in-flight supervisor of SQ006 who died in the accident also reacted heroically after the initial impact of the crash. The official reports showed that he survived the impact of the crash and went up to the business class section on the upper deck to look for survivors. He did not return from the plane wreckage. The story claimed that in-flight supervisor survived the crash and was interviewed by crash investigators, ignoring his courageous act, sense of duty and responsibility. Finally, the story reminds of the tragic death a SIA flight stewardess who was killed at a young age and on her maiden flight with the airlines in 1995. It also mentions the release of her murderer in 2001 after serving a prison sentence in a medium security prison in the United States. In a Singapore where convicted offenders of serious crimes are usually given stiff sentences, or in some cases the death penalty, some Singaporeans may find the release of Chang Yu’s murderer and his return to Singapore questionable.
For families affected by the tragedy of these two traumatic events, their pain and loss is unimaginable. While the story circulating on the Internet may help keep the tragedy of these two events in the public mind, it does not remember the victims and survivors in a deservingly manner.
 Findings of the Aviation Safety Council, Taiwan, Republic of China after the investigations of the crash of flight SQ006. This paper acknowledges that the ASC report was disputed by the Singapore authorities with regards to probable causes leading to the crash.
Possibly one of the original and earliest “sources” of the rumour posted:
Photo Gallery of SQ006 Crash by Zaobao: