The dramatic ordeal afflicting passengers on the QF94 from Los Angeles to Melbourne is understood to have been caused by a vortex, or “wake turbulence,” caused by another aircraft that took off just two minutes earlier.
QF94 passenger Janelle Wilson told The Australian the “three-quarters-full” plane suddenly entered a “free-fall nosedive … a direct decline toward the ocean” for about 10 seconds.
In 1993, the crew of a domestic passenger charter flight in California failed to leave sufficient separation between their aircraft and a Boeing 757 and lost control or the plane, which crashed killing all occupants.
More recently, in 2008, an Air Canada Airbus A319 traveling over the northwestern area of the U.S. encountered unexpected sudden wake vortex turbulence from an in-trail Boeing 747-400.
Because cabin service was in progress and seatbelt signs were left off, it led to cabin service carts hitting the cabin ceiling and several passengers were injured, some seriously.