April 19, 2024

King Charles sits in the cockpit of a British Airways 787 aircraft with a British Airways pilot.

You don’t say?
Photo: Chris Jackson – WPA Pool (Getty Images)

After a LATAM Airlines flight threw passengers to the ceiling of a Boeing 787 and injured 50 when a pilot unexpectedly slammed forward into their controls in Monday, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the plane manufacturer sent a memo to other 787 pilots to make sure their seats are secure before taking off.

“Closing the spring-loaded seat back switch guard onto a loose/detached rocker switch cap can potentially jam the rocker switch, resulting in unintended seat movement,” the memo says.

During the LATAM incident, a 787-9 Dreamliner heading to Auckland, New Zealand from Sydney, Australia took a sudden nosedive. Of the 50 passengers who were injured, more than a dozen had to go the hospital. Many were quickly discharged.

In a statement provided to Quartz, Boeing said:

The investigation of Flight LA800 is ongoing and we defer to the investigation authorities on any potential findings. 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. We are recommending operators perform an inspection at the next maintenance opportunity.

Technical events

An initial LATAM statement said the cause was “a technical event during the flight, which caused a strong movement.” Later, the airline said that the plane “experienced a strong shake during flight, the cause of which is currently under investigation.”

The WSJ also reports that although Boeing has known about the seat issue since 2017 and mentioned it in a service bulletin at the time, the company did not indicate whether the issue was the direct cause of the LATAM incident.

Boeing has been struggling mightily of late to deal with the fallout of a January door plug blowout on a different plane, the 737 Max 9. The U.S. government is currently investigating what went wrong there, and in the meantime a tremendous amount of scrutiny has come to bear on the manufacturer’s history of headline-grabbing safety problems.

Boeing stock was slightly higher in Friday morning trading.

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