Australia

Qantas flight's '10-second nosedive' blamed on wake turbulence

Source: Getty

The reason for a Qantas aircraft's reported 10 second nosedive last week has been revealed.

"Wake turbulence" is being blamed for a Qantas aircraft entering a “10-second nosedive” last week.

Two Qantas A380 jets had left Los Angeles for Australia just two minutes apart, with the second aircraft flying into the wake turbulence generated by the one flying ahead of it.

Wake turbulence is the disruption in the atmosphere that forms immediately behind an aircraft as it flies.

Some passengers on-board the affected QF94 reported the plane suddenly entered a 10 second “free fall nosedive”.

“It was between 1½ and two hours after we left LA and all of a sudden the plane went through a violent turbulence and then completely upended and we were nosediving,” passenger Janelle Wilson told The Australian.

“The lady sitting next to me and I screamed and held hands and just waited but thought with absolute certainty that we were going to crash.”

Media personality Eddie McGuire was also on board.

"Somebody described it as the feeling of going over the top of a rollercoaster, slightly, not the fall - just a little, 'what's going on there?'. There was a little bit of turning of the plane as well and a little bit of downward," he said.

"It was one of those ones that got your attention. Then it levelled off."

“Wake turbulence” is being blamed for a Qantas aircraft entering a “10 second nosedive” last week.
“Wake turbulence” is being blamed for a Qantas aircraft entering a “10 second nosedive” last week.
AAP

Other passengers described a slightly less frightening ordeal.

“It was just like going through normal turbulence, but just a little bit different,” another passenger, Maureen, told Macquarie Radio.

“The captain explained what it was. He thought it was quite unusual. But it wasn’t too bad.

Nobody on board either plane was injured.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is reportedly looking into the incident.

‘Hard to eliminate’

Qantas confirmed in a statement to SBS News the incident has been reported to the ATSB.

The airline said there was no violation of separation standards because the planes were allegedly separated by at least 1000 feet in altitude and 20 nautical miles.

Two Qantas jets had left Los Angeles just two minutes apart, with the second aircraft flying into the wake turbulence generated by the one in front.
Two Qantas jets had left Los Angeles just two minutes apart, with the second aircraft flying into the wake turbulence generated by the one in front.
AAP

“We understand that any sudden turbulence can be a jolt for passenger, but aircraft are designed to handle it safely,” Fleet Safety Captain Debbie Slade said in a statement.

“There are a lot of safeguards in place to reduce the likelihood of wake turbulence encounters, but it’s hard to eliminate.

“Unexpected turbulence is why we always recommend passengers keep their seat belt firmly fastened at all times just as pilots do in the flight deck.”

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch