It is too soon to confirm that laptop computers caused the Qantas jet to plunge on a flight from Singapore to Perth, according to air safety investigators.
ATSB director of aviation safety regulation Julian Walsh said the mid-air accident was in response to "irregularity" in its elevator control system.
While it has been reported passenger laptops may have caused the irregularity, the investigators said it was too early to make that call.
“It is obviously very early in the investigation and too soon to draw any conclusions as to the specific cause of this accident,” a spokesperson told reporters.
The accident hurt 74 people, who were treated by hospitals in Perth for fractures, concussions and suspected spinal injuries.
Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon said the aircraft’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders had been removed and would undergo further assessment.
“As always we will cooperate fully with the ATSB, as well as conducting our own investigation into the incident.
“Our primary concern remains the welfare of our passengers and crew on board the flight, and we are focused on doing everything possible to assist them,” Mr Dixon said.
Qantas cuts fuel surcharges
Meanwhile, Qantas has announced it would cut its international fuel surcharges by up to $20 in response to recent falls in oil and jet fuel prices.
According to the airline’s executive general manager John Borghetti, Qantas’ UK and Europe surcharges will be cut to $190 and the levies on USA, Canada, South America, South Africa and India fares will also drop from $165 to $150. Asia Pacific and New Zealand levies will fall by $10 and $5 respectively.
In addition, Qantas domestic and regional fares across a range of routes will be reduced by 2-3 per cent.
While the oil price has currently fallen below USD 100 per barrel, Mr Borghetti said it remained very volatile and a major challenge for the aviation sector.
“At current oil prices, and even after hedging and fuel saving measures, the Qantas Group’s fuel bill this year will still be $1.3 billion higher than in 2007/08,” he said.
Virgin said it would continue to monitor oil prices, but would not follow Qantas’ move as its surcharges were already about $20 lower than those of Qantas.
Qantas did not indicate when surcharges on freight may be reviewed.