The sudden plunge on a LATAM flight that injured at least 50 people may have been caused by the movement of the pilot’s seat according to reports on the investigation into the incident. 

The incident, which occurred on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner travelling between Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand is being investigated by both Chile’s Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC), as the authority for LATAM, and New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC), the local authority.

While the pilot initially told passengers onboard that the aircraft’s gauges had “blanked out”, a report by The Air Current said the focus of the investigation was currently on a “pilot induced” but not intentional movement of the flight deck. 

Though the exact connection between the seat movement and the sudden dive taken by the 787 aircraft has not yet been laid out, it is possible that any sudden movement involving the pilot’s seat could have affected the yoke placed in front of the pilot. 

Neither investigating bodies have confirmed the line of inquiry, but New Zealand’s TAIC has publicly confirmed that it has taken possession of the aircraft’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders (colloquially known as the ‘black box’ despite being red) while assisting the DGAC’s work. 

At least 10 of the 263 passengers and nine crew members onboard the flight are known to have been hospitalised by the incident, and it is believed that Boeing is set to release a Multi-Operator Message to operators of the 787 aircraft, prompting speculation that the issue involved could be fleet-wide. 

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The incident could see further investigation of Boeing’s quality control, which has come under intense scrutiny following a door plug blow out incident on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX aircraft and subsequent reports describing the implementation of safety culture at the manufacturer as “inadequate” and instructions given to manufacturers as “vague and unclear”.

Boeing has currently not issued a public statement about the LATAM incident, referring questions to the DGAC and TAIC.