The ATSB has described how an ‘irregularity’ in the elevator control system hit QF 72 while it was in level flight at 37,000 feet over WA yesterday shortly before its emergency landing at Learmonth with dozens of injured passengers.
In lay terms the elevators are control surfaces on the tail of the jet which are critical to stable flight.
The ATSB said today that the pilots “received electronic centralised aircraft monitoring messages relating to some irregularity with the aircraft’s elevator control system.”
The jet with 303 people on board then climbed about 300 feet above its intended flight level where the crew began following the non-normal checklist response actions.
Julian Walshe the ATSB’s director of air safety investigations said “The aircraft is then reported to have abruptly pitched nose down.”
The obvious lines of inquiry for the ATSB now include reviewing any history of faults with this particular A330, and its maintenance history, which should include routine records of parts replacements and other relevant repairs, as well the responses the aircraft made to pilot actions as they brought it under control and then landed it at Learmonth.
It is also now abundantly clear that the aircraft dived very steeply and quickly and for many thousands of feet before it returned to near level flight and landed.
This inquiry will be of the highest interest to other operators of the A330 type as well as Qantas.