In 2014, a British military pilot caused his aircraft to fall 4,400 feet and throwing several passengers and the co-pilot against the roof of the plane, after his personal camera lodged in the flight controls. Now, 10 people are suing the Ministry of Defense while the pilot faces a court martial with charges of perjury, making a false record, and negligently performing a duty.
The actual incident happened in February 2014, but it’s in the news again due to the lawsuits. During the flight from the U.K. to Afghanistan, the pilot’s Nikon camera became stuck in between the side-stick controller and the armrest. The mishap caused the aircraft, an Airbus A330 modified for military use (like the one shown above), to fall for nearly 30 seconds. The co-pilot was one of the passengers tossed around the cabin when the incident occurred — according to the International Business Times, he headed back to the cockpit with his feet partially on the roof to help regain control of the Voyager aircraft.
Nearly 200 people were on the flight at the time, and 33 minor injuries were reported. Three soldiers were medically discharged after the incident, while many of the passengers say they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a fear of flying after the incident.
Nine soldiers and one civil servant are bringing lawsuits in connection with the event.
“Some of them assumed the plane was being shot down over Afghanistan,” Rhicha Kapila, the lawyer representing the 10 passengers, told the Sunday Times. “Personal items were being propelled to the back of the plane, passengers were screaming, lots of them were crying, they could hear people saying, ‘Please don’t let me die.’ It was a state of chaos and very frightening.”
According to reports by the Military Aviation Authority, the pilot had taken 28 photos before the incident occurred. According to aviation guidelines, pilots are prohibited from using personal electronic devices until the plane is flying above 10,000 feet.