The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is looking into a recent incident involving a Hong Kong-bound Qantas Boeing 747, in which the plane shook violently before dropping on at least two occasions.
Flight QF29 was just 110km southeast of HK when its pilots received a ‘stick shaker’, a vibration of controls that warns flight crew to disconnect autopilot and take immediate action.
Following a period of ‘airframe buffeting’, a strong vibration that would have been felt throughout the aircraft, 15 passengers were left with minor injuries.
The ATSB says it will interview crew before releasing its report later this year, while Qantas, who put the incident down to turbulence, will conduct its own investigation.
A Melbourne traveller described the incident as terrifying, with some passengers screaming and crying.
"It shuddered and sort of stalled, then it dropped," teacher Jemma Gendall told 9news.com.au.
"In seconds, the plane dropped again for a lot longer and it was so scary. People started screaming."
Some passengers who were standing at the time reportedly even hit their heads on the cabin ceiling, while bags were heard banging inside the overhead bins.
"When it dropped, it felt like we wouldn’t stop and it would crash," remarked Ms Gendall, who suffered motion sickness and said her family was still traumatised.
“They tried to keep reassuring us but it just made us panic more."