Some early surprises have emerged from the black box flight recorders that have been read at the ATSB headquarters in Canberra.

The flight data recorder shows that the initial uncommanded climb above the cruise altitude of 37,000 feet was 200 feet, not 300 as previously indicated in briefings. The first dive was 650 feet in 20 seconds, and the second dive was of 400 feet in 16 seconds.

Of course the results of those moments of uncontrolled flight are painfully obvious from the images of bleeding, battered and shocked passengers taken in the cabin after the emergency landing at Learmonth.

It wasn’t the length of the unintended drops in altitude that did the damage so much as the abruptness with which they began or ended.

The ATSB says the full read out process to extract all information from the flight data and cockpit voice recorders will take much longer than today’s first look, which showed that both of them worked as intended and produced high quality information about what happened and in what sequence to QF 72.

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