Revealed: Flight attendant unable to work after terrifying 2008 Qantas flight

The plane was flying smoothly until its autopilot malfunctioned.
The plane was flying smoothly until its autopilot malfunctioned. Photo credit: Getty

Extensive injuries have prevented a flight attendant from being able to work after a regular Qantas flight from Singapore to Perth turned into a terrifying ordeal.

The plane was flying smoothly in October 2008 when one of its autopilot systems malfunctioned, Channel 7's Sunday Night reports. Captain Kevin Sullivan said messages appeared saying the plane was stalling and travelling too fast at the same time - which is not possible.

As the situation quickly worsened, the plane started to fall from the sky towards the ocean - plunging 200m in 20 seconds.

There was praying, crying and screaming amongst those on board, Sunday Night reports.

"I looked down and the plane was disappearing from my feet," flight attendant Fuzzy Maiava said. "Next minute, I must have hit the ceiling because I was knocked out," he told Sunday Night.

Maiava said he had hit the bench of the galley.

"That's what woke me up, and all I could hear was the crushing sound of my knees," he told Sunday Night. "It was so alarming.

"I couldn't move."

Remarkably, Sullivan was able to land the Airbus A330 at an airfield in Victoria, but Maiava was not the only one who needed desperate medical assistance, with dozens injured in the incident.

To this day, Maiava is still haunted physically and emotionally, he told Sunday Night.

"It's really bad, I can't even sleep properly at night," he said. "I toss and turn, and that's when the flashbacks come.

"The pain was unbearable."

Maiava said Sullivan saved his life, and he's since started a petition to have him and his crew recognised.

"Against all odds, these courageous men skillfully pulled off one of the most remarkable near-death escapes in aviation history when they critically handled and recovered a falling aircraft from the sky not once but twice when all they could see was the Indian Ocean," the petition says.

In a statement to Sunday Night, Qantas said it's always recognised the "exceptional" job the crew did on the day.

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