PERTH – More than 140 passengers on board a Qantas plane that plunged twice over Western Australia have received compensation payouts of up to $400,000 each.
The Airbus A330 was flying from Singapore to Perth in October 2008 with 303 passengers when it plunged hundreds of feet near Exmouth, in WA’s north.
An out-of-court settlement has been arranged for 144 passengers.
But 16 passengers who suffered more severe injuries are launching a class action in the US against Airbus and aviation technology company Northrop Grumman.
Lawyer Floyd Wisner said injuries included psychological trauma, fractured vertebrae, broken bones and cuts.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, in its final report, said that at least 110 passengers and nine of the 12 crew members were injured.
Twelve people were seriously injured and another 39 received hospital treatment, the bureau said.
The report said that one of the plane’s three air data units began sending incorrect information on airspeed, altitude, air pressure, temperature and the flying angle to the computers controlling the flight.
Within two minutes, the autopilot disconnected and the plane plunged twice.
About 60 passengers not wearing seatbelts and crew who were standing hit the ceiling.
Qantas says the pilots operating the flight responded quickly and landed the aircraft safely.
Airbus has redesigned the flight computer software to prevent the problem recurring.
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