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Investigation finds ‘involuntary movement’ in LATAM pilot’s seat

written by Jake Nelson | April 18, 2024

Victor Pody shot this LATAM 787-9 Dreamliner in Melbourne.

The pilot’s seat on board the LATAM 787-9 Dreamliner that experienced a sudden drop last month moved unexpectedly during the flight, an investigation has found.

In its preliminary report into the incident, Chile’s aviation authority noted an “involuntary movement forward” in the captain’s seat on CC-BGG (similar aircraft pictured) mid-flight as it was operating flight 800 from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland on 11 March, though the cause of the drop itself has yet to be determined.

50 people were injured when the plane abruptly dropped around 300 feet en route to Auckland, with 12 hospitalised.

As reported by CNN, maintenance personnel have “verified the condition of the captain’s seat” as part of interviews being conducted for the investigation, with crews that worked on CC-BGG before and during the flight all being questioned, and the history of the plane’s cockpit seats being put under a microscope.

The FAA and Boeing are set to examine the seat itself, sources told CNN, while the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will take control of the black box; both pieces of equipment are currently in Chile, according to reports.


Boeing several days after the incident advised airlines to check the cockpit seat switches in their Dreamliners.

“We have taken the precautionary measure of reminding 787 operators of a service bulletin issued in 2017 which included instructions for inspecting and maintaining switches on flight deck seats,” the planemaker said in a statement.

“We are recommending operators perform an inspection at the next maintenance opportunity.”

LATAM flight 800 dropped from 41,000 to 40,692 feet over the course of a few seconds on 11 March, 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.”

In a statement shortly after the incident, 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.”

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