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Boeing directs airlines to check cockpit seats on 787 planes after LATAM accident

Boeing directs airlines to check cockpit seats on 787 planes after LATAM accident

Boeing said on Friday it had asked airlines to inspect cockpit seats on its 787 Dreamliner, after a LATAM Airlines plane suddenly fell during a flight to Auckland, New Zealand, on Monday, injuring passengers.

The drop in altitude apparently occurred when a flight attendant pressed a switch on the seat, causing the pilot to enter the plane's controls, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, citing unnamed US industry officials. Aviation regulators are investigating the incident and have not announced any findings.

Boeing said in a statement that it reminded airlines of a 2017 safety memo that instructed them on how to inspect and maintain switches on flight deck seats.

The company said: “The investigation into flight LA800 is ongoing and we refer any potential findings to the investigating authorities.” “We recommend that operators perform an inspection at the next maintenance opportunity,” she added.

The LATAM plane's horrific landing was documented in video footage taken by passengers. One of the passengers, Brian Jockat, said that the plane fell suddenly and then quickly recovered, likening it to “reaching the top of a rollercoaster and heading down.”

The drop left at least one passenger in critical condition. Another 11 people were taken to hospitals in Auckland after the plane landed there. As a result, dozens of passengers were injured, most of them minor.

Regulators, airlines and travelers have focused intensely on the quality and safety of Boeing's planes since the panel of an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 sheared off on January 5, leading to an emergency landing. In 2018 and 2019, two 737 MAX 8 planes crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing nearly 350 people.

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In a letter to 787 operators sent late Thursday, Boeing said it was advising of a “known condition involving a loose/detached rocker switch cover” located on the seatbacks of the captain and first officer seats, but did not say whether that was the case or not. no. Keycaps played a role in the accident on the LATAM plane.

“Closing the spring-loaded seat back switch guard on a loose/separated rocker switch cover could jam the rocker switch, resulting in unintended seat movement,” Boeing said.

The memo, a copy of which was reviewed by The New York Times, referred to the 2017 letter, which noted the installation of an adhesive on the rocker keycaps “to prevent the caps on the rocker keys from separating and/or becoming loose.”

Boeing has recommended that all 787 operators inspect the four seat switches and rocker switch covers.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Boeing sent the memo to airlines.

In a memo to the 787 crew, American Airlines said it had “identified a potential hazard” with the horizontal power controls located on the upper back of the pilot's seats.

The memo, reviewed by The Times, said the airline's technology operations team “will ensure these keys are properly secured” and asked 787 captains to “inform all pilots, flight attendants and wheelchair passengers on your flight of the importance of this.” By not using the switch located at the top back of the pilot's seat when the seat is occupied.

The FAA said in a statement on Friday that it would convene a panel of experts to review Boeing's communications to airlines about the switch, including a 2017 memo, and provide feedback to the company. She added that the agency will continue to monitor the situation closely.

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The 787 Dreamliner, a twin-aisle jet, is one of Boeing's most important aircraft. Its three models can carry between 248 and 336 passengers, according to Boeing, and are used by airlines on international and transcontinental flights.

The LATAM plane was on a flight from Sydney, Australia, to Auckland, and was scheduled to continue to Santiago, Chile, where the airline is based. The company said in a statement on Friday that it was working with investigators.

Mark Walker Contributed to reports.