Passenger on Boeing flight that suddenly dropped says pilot told him he lost control after instrument failure

Tuesday, March 12, 2024
 – This The pilot of a scary flight from Australia to New Zealand told those on board he temporarily lost control of his Boeing 787 after one of its instruments failed, a passenger said Monday, March 11 as authorities investigate what caused a sudden drop that threw travelers around the cabin, injuring dozens.

The incident aboard LATAM Airlines flight 800 from Sydney to Auckland is the latest to hit aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which has been rocked by years of quality and safety issues.

Passenger Brian Jokat described the horrifying moment when he was woken from his sleep as the aircraft “dropped something to the effect of 500 feet instantly.”

“That’s when I opened my eyes and there was various individuals at the top of the plane. Just stuck to the roof and then they fell to the floor. And then I just realized I’m not in a movie, this is actually for real,” he told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

After landing in Auckland, Jokat said the pilot checked on the passengers and explained he had temporarily lost control of the jet.

“I immediately engaged with him and said, ‘What was that?’ And he openly admitted, he said, ‘I lost control of the plane. My gauges just kind of went blank on me,’” Jokat said.

“He said for that brief moment he couldn’t control anything and that’s when the plane did what it did. Then he said the gauges came back and it reengaged, the plane just reengaged to its normal flight pattern. And we had no issues before, no issues after. But just that moment.”

The plane, operated by Chile’s flag carrier, was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

LATAM on Monday, March 11 said the plane “had a technical event during the flight which caused a strong movement,” adding it had landed as scheduled in Auckland.

Boeing said it was “working to gather more information about the flight and will provide any support needed by our customer.” Boeing said in a statement to CNN Tuesday.

About 50 people were injured in the incident, with one person in serious condition, emergency services said.

Jokat said he feared for his life when he saw fellow passengers fly out of their seats and hit the ceiling of the plane.

“People were screaming and crying. And yeah, it was mass chaos for a few short seconds,” he said. “Clearly there was a moment in my head that I just kind of resigned to the fact this could be it. This might be it.”

Boeing has faced harsh criticism for a series of quality and safety issues in recent years, with many critics saying the company has shifted its focus in the last few decades to financial results at the cost of safety and quality in its aircraft.

They include two fatal crashes of the 737 Max jet due to a design flaw in the plane, numerous halts in deliveries due to quality control issues and, most recently, a door plug that blew off of a new 737 Max operated by Alaska Airlines in January, leaving a hole in the side of the plane.

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