A Qantas A380 operating from Los Angeles (LAX) to Melbourne was sent into a nosedive for 10 seconds over the Pacific Ocean, on June 10, 2018. The incident was attributed to a “wake turbulence” induced by another Qantas A380 that left Los Angeles minutes earlier.

The two A380s took off from Los Angeles two minutes apart, QF12 heading to Sydney and QF94 heading to Melbourne. However, according to Qantas, the separation standards were respected, as they were about 20 nautical miles from each other, and 1000 feet of altitude apart, when QF94 hit the vortex produced by QF12.

The nosedive that ensued lasted for about 10 seconds. No passengers or crew were injured during the incident.

Qantas Fleet Safety Captain Debbie Slade acknowledged the incident, however, said passengers were not at risk: “We understand that any sudden turbulence can be a jolt for passengers but aircraft are designed to handle it safely.”

Both planes arrived safely at their respective destinations, QF94 landing with a delay of 30 minutes.

Wake turbulence is an aero dynamical phenomenon formed by the wingtips of a passing plane. The vortex can last for a few minutes after the plane passed. In 2008 in Mexico City, a charter LearJet 45 transporting the Secretary of the Interior Juan Camilo Mourino crashed after sustaining turbulence caused by a Boeing 767. The accident killed 16 people, including 9 passengers. After investigation, it was discovered that the pilot of the LearJet did not respect the minimum distance standards.


The article was updated on June 14, 2018. The previous version incorrectly stated that nosedive lasted for 10 minutes instead of 10 seconds.