Qantas is paying the price for the technological malfunction that took passengers on a Perth-bound plane from Singapore on a nightmare ride. The Australian airline has paid out as much as $400,000 to each of the 144 passengers who were injured on the October 2008 flight after the company's Airbus A330 nosedived twice.
The West Australian newspaper reports that the 16 passengers who were most severely injured when the plane plummeted, tossing them around the cabin, would likely receive much larger settlements. According to the paper, the money has arrived just as several passengers are on the verge of suing Northrop Grumman, which made the Air Data Inertial Reference Unit, the component that caused the mishap.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which recently finalized its report on the Qantas incident, which occurred neear the town of Exmouth, found that incorrect data caused the rough ride and, in particular, that one of the data units was sending the plane inaccurate altitude data before the plane dove roughly 690 feet.
The plane plunged another 400 feet shortly after its initial fall.
These findings are likely to stir up more discussion about the limits of automation, a topic that was brought to the forefront by complaints surrounding the core competency of the co-pilots on Air France 447, which crashed into the Atlantic killing everyone aboard.