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Preliminary report released 14 November 2008

At 0932 local time (0132 UTC) on 7 October 2008, an Airbus A330-303 aircraft, registered VH-QPA, departed Singapore on a scheduled passenger transport service to Perth, Australia. On board the aircraft (operating as flight number QF72) were 303 passengers, nine cabin crew and three flight crew. At 1240:28, while the aircraft was cruising at 37,000 ft, the autopilot disconnected. That was accompanied by various aircraft system failure indications. At 1242:27, while the crew was evaluating the situation, the aircraft abruptly pitched nose-down. The aircraft reached a maximum pitch angle of about 8.4 degrees nose-down, and descended 650 ft during the event. After returning the aircraft to 37,000 ft, the crew commenced actions to deal with multiple failure messages. At 1245:08, the aircraft commenced a second uncommanded pitch-down event. The aircraft reached a maximum pitch angle of about 3.5 degrees nose-down, and descended about 400 ft during this second event.

At 1249, the crew made a PAN emergency broadcast to air traffic control, and requested a clearance to divert to and track direct to Learmonth. At 1254, after receiving advice from the cabin crew of several serious injuries, the crew declared a MAYDAY. The aircraft subsequently landed at Learmonth at 1350.

Currently available information indicates that one flight attendant and at least 13 passengers were seriously injured and many others experienced less serious injuries. Most of the injuries involved passengers who were seated without their seatbelts fastened. This constituted an accident under the ICAO definition outlined in Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention and as defined in the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.

Examination of flight data recorder information indicates that, at the time the autopilot disconnected, there was a fault with the inertial reference (IR) part of the air data inertial reference unit (ADIRU) number 1. From that time, there were many spikes in the recorded parameters from the air data reference (ADR) and IR parts of ADIRU 1. Two of the angle-of-attack spikes appear to have been associated with the uncommanded pitch-down movements of the aircraft.

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