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Boeing 787 nosedive caused by flight attendant bumping cockpit switch: report

Boeing is once again facing scrutiny over safety concerns— this time with its 787 Dreamliner jet, after a nosedive incident earlier this week left 50 passengers injured.

However, the terrifying drop was likely a mishap in the cockpit and not a flaw with the plane itself, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The report comes days after a packed 787 Dreamliner took a nosedive during a trip from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand. Latam Airlines Flight LA800 was about an hour away from its destination Monday when “all of a sudden, the plane just dropped out of the sky,” passenger Brian Jokat told New Zealand news outlet Stuff.

Unnamed U.S. industry officials briefed on a preliminary investigation into the incident told the Journal that a flight attendant serving a meal accidentally bumped a switch on the pilot’s seat, knocking the pilot into the controls and forcing the plane to take a plunge.

The sudden descent resulted in injuries for dozens of passengers, some of whom were thrown to the ceiling of the plane. The pilot eventually regained control and was able to land the plane safely and on time in Auckland, where at least 12 people were reportedly sent to the hospital, including one in serious condition.

In an interview with CNN, passenger Jokat said the pilot later told passengers, “ My gauges just blanked out, I lost all of my ability to fly the plane.”

The comment initially suggested another safety issue for Boeing. In the wake of the incident, Latam confirmed the plane “had a technical event during the flight which caused a strong movement,” but did not provide any further details at the time.

In a late Thursday memo issued by Boeing and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the aircraft manufacturer recommended airlines inspect the Dreamliner’s cockpit chairs at the next maintenance opportunity.

Boeing warned in its memo that closing a spring-loaded seatback switch guard on to a loose rocker switch cap could “potentially jam the rocker switch, resulting in unintended seat movement.”

Earlier this week, the aircraft maker said it was “in contact” with Latam and “stands ready” to support an investigation into what happened.