LATAM Airlines 787 suffers inflight emergency with up to 50 passengers injured    - Istanbul Airport Meet and Assist

About 50 people have been injured following an incident onboard a LATAM Airlines flight operating from Sydney to Santiago de Chile via Auckland that suffered what is being described by the airline as a “technical issue”.

The aircraft involved in the incident, a Boeing 787-9 registered CC-BGG, departed Sydney (SYD) at 11:44 on the morning of March 11, 2024, heading for Auckland (AKL) in New Zealand. Flight LA800 was due to make a short technical stop in Auckland before continuing its flight to Santiago de Chile (SCL), its final destination.

However, according to reports, the flight encountered a “sudden drop mid-air” with about an hour left of its flight resulting in 50 passengers and crew sustaining injuries. The aircraft continued to Auckland where it made a safe landing two hours and 42 minutes later at 16:26 local time.

LATAM Airlines confirmed flight LA800 had a “technical event during the flight which caused a strong movement”.

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“After landing in Auckland, the passengers and crew were met with a major response from the local St John’s ambulance service which had scrambled several crews and vehicles to the scene. As a result of the incident, all injured passengers were treated at the scene, while seven passengers and three cabin crew members were taken to Middlemore Hospital for medical checks, with no serious injuries reported,” the airline’s full statement said.

“We were notified at 15:58 and responded with five ambulances, two operations managers, one Major Incident Support Team vehicle, one command unit, and two rapid response vehicles,” St John Ambulance reported. “Our ambulance crews assessed and treated approximately 50 patients, with one patient in a serious condition and the remainder in a moderate to minor condition.” 

Speaking to reporters from the New Zealand Herald newspaper, one female passenger, Priscilla Waller-Subritzky, who was onboard the aircraft said the flight experienced a “quick little drop” as it headed to Auckland.

“I used to be a flight attendant, and this is the first time I’ve ever…the whole plane just froze,” said Waller-Subritzky. “I was watching a movie when the plane lost altitude and a number of passengers and crew were thrown into the roof of the plane”.

“I went into fight mode and just started jumping in and helping where I could because the crew were injured so couldn’t help,” she added.

LATAM Airlines operates a daily flight between Sydney and Santago de Chile, all of which route via Auckland. All services are operated by the carrier’s 25-strong fleet of Boeing 787-9s, each of which has a capacity of 313 passengers across three cabins – 30 business class, 51 premium economy, and 232 in economy.

According to ch-aviation, the aircraft involved in this incident is 8.3 years old, having had its first flight in December 2015 and was delivered to LATAM later that same month. At the time of writing, the aircraft remains on the ground in Auckland.

“LATAM regrets the inconvenience and injury this situation may have caused its passengers and reiterates its commitment to safety as a priority within the framework of its operational standards,” the airline later added. “Following the cancellation of the flight, a new flight (LAN1130) has been scheduled for March 12, 2024, departing from Auckland at 20:00 local time, bound for Santiago, Chile.”

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