During a court martial on February 6, 2017, the terrifying events endured by the military personnel on board the flight were explained in detail. The plane had 187 personnel on board and was being piloted by an RAF pilot. It was explained that he was “bored” and wanted to “[practice] taking photos”, and this is what would lead to the life threatening situation.
Flight Lieutenant Andrew Townshend is the pilot responsible. He took out his camera when it got caught up in the controls causing a jam. The plane, a Voyager aircraft, entered a nosedive that dropped the flight 4,400ft from its original cruising altitude of 33,000ft in only 29 seconds. Passengers described being “pinned to the ceiling”, and “thought they were going to die”.
From the records, it appears Townshend has a few versions of what happened. During the military flight from the UK to Afghanistan, he states that the co-pilot went to get tea giving him the opportunity to practice long exposure photography. He had his Nikon camera positioned in front of the arm rest, but when he moved his seat forward this caused the camera to get jammed into the control panel and disengage the autopilot. The plane entered the nose dive causing the co-pilot to be pinned to the ceiling while Townshend struggled to regain control.
The flight then was diverted to an airbase in Turkey where Townshend filed a report that said the incident was caused by a mechanical malfunction. Only a few days later, this story would change. Under oath, during a service inquiry, he would blame a technical error for the incident. Moreover, Townshend deleted the photos he took to remove any evidence. In all, Flt. Lt. Townshend’s case is expected to last 2 weeks as he defends himself against charges of perjury and making a false record. Although, he has admitted to negligently performing his duties.