Boeing to Airlines: Check Your Cockpit Seats

Move comes after flight attendant hit a switch, leading to a scary plunge
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2024 12:00 AM CDT
Updated Mar 15, 2024 9:44 AM CDT
Here's What Likely Caused Terrifying Airplane Plunge
An employee walks past a fuselage section under construction at Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner campus in North Charleston, S.C., on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.   (Gavin McIntyre/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool)
UPDATE Mar 15, 2024 9:44 AM CDT

Boeing is advising airlines to check the cockpit seats of their planes to avoid a potentially deadly accident, reports the Wall Street Journal. The airlines are being told to make sure that a switch on the pilot's seat is properly covered, to make sure nobody accidentally hits it and sends the pilot lurching—the scenario blamed in a recent scary plunge of a 787 Dreamliner. The airlines also can disable the function altogether to be safer.

Mar 15, 2024 12:00 AM CDT

The terrifying mid-air drop that left at least 50 people injured on a Latam Airlines flight from Sydney, Australia, to Auckland, New Zealand, was likely caused by an accidental bump in the cockpit. US industry officials who were briefed on the preliminary evidence from the investigation of the Monday incident tell the Wall Street Journal it appears a flight attendant was serving a meal when they hit a switch on the pilot's seat, which in turn activated a motorized feature that pushed the pilot into the plane's controls, causing the plane's nose to be pushed down. Per an aviation industry report, the movement of a flight deck seat that was "pilot induced, not intentionally," appeared to cause the plunge, Reuters reports.

"The seat movement caused the nose down" angle of the plane, the report continues, although it also states that the possibility of an electrical short is being investigated as well. If the switch is indeed found to be the cause, the Journal notes it has a cover and is not supposed to be used when the seat is occupied. All Latam has said so far is that it is cooperating with the investigation, and that a "technical event during the flight ... caused strong movement." (More airplane stories.)

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