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50 injured after LATAM 787-9 drops 300ft en route to Auckland

written by Jake Nelson | March 12, 2024

A LATAM 787-9, CC-BGK. (Image: LATAM)

A mid-air incident on board a LATAM 787-9 Dreamliner has left 50 people injured and 12 in hospital.

The plane, CC-BGG, was operating flight LA800 from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland on Monday when it experienced a sudden drop over the Tasman Sea around two hours after take-off, causing unrestrained passengers and crew to be violently thrown around the cabin.

The plane dropped from 41,000 to 40,692 feet over the course of a few seconds, with some passengers and flight attendants who were not wearing seatbelts crashing into the ceiling before the pilots managed to regain control.

“The plane, unannounced, just dropped. I mean, it dropped unlike anything I’ve ever experienced on any kind of minor turbulence,” passenger Brian Jokat told RNZ.

“People were thrown out of their seats, hit the top of the roof of the plane, thrown down the aisles. It was madness.


“Some of the roof panels were broken from people being thrown up and knocking through the plastic roof panels in the hallways, there was blood coming from several people’s heads, people were yelling and screaming. It was chaos.”

According to Jokat, after landing safely in Auckland at around 4pm, the pilot said his gauges had “blanked out”.

“I asked him, ‘what happened?’ And he said, ‘my instrument panel went blank. Just for a second. I lost control of the plane’,” said Jokat.

In a statement, LATAM said the plane experienced a “technical problem during the flight which caused a strong movement”.

“The plane landed at Auckland Airport as scheduled. As a result of the incident, some passengers and cabin crew were affected. They received immediate assistance and were evaluated or treated by medical staff at the airport as needed,” the carrier said.

“LATAM regrets the inconvenience and injury this situation may have caused its passengers, and reiterates its commitment to safety as a priority within the framework of its operational standards.”

A spokesperson for Hato Hone St John Ambulance told The Australian that 14 units were sent to the airport, having been notified around half an hour before the flight landed.

“These included seven ambulances, two rapid response vehicles, a command unit and two major incident support team vehicles,” the spokesperson said.

“Twelve patients were transported to hospital, 10 of whom were taken to Middlemore Hospital, including one patient in a serious condition.

“One patient was transported to Auckland City Hospital in a moderate condition, and one was taken to Starship Hospital in a moderate condition.”

Chilean aviation authorities have said they will take part in investigations, telling RNZ that New Zealand will lead the probe.

The incident comes as Boeing faces a criminal investigation in the US following the mid-air blowout of a door plug on an Alaskan Airlines 737 MAX 9 in January.

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