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Real Housewives hubby ‘nearly died’ in mid-air private jet drama

The husband of a popular Real Housewives of Melbourne star is suing the company that made his private jet after he claimed it malfunctioned mid-flight in a terrifying high-altitude scare.RHOM personality Lydia Schiavello shared the streaming link to the Supreme Court of Victoria hearing with her tens of thousands of social media followers before Monday’s…

The husband of a popular Real Housewives of Melbourne star is suing the company that made his private jet after he claimed it malfunctioned mid-flight in a terrifying high-altitude scare.

RHOM personality Lydia Schiavello shared the streaming link to the Supreme Court of Victoria hearing with her tens of thousands of social media followers before Monday’s sitting.

The trial concerns her husband Andrew Norbury, who was flying the $4 million plane when it plummeted 2000 feet a second in April 2011, his lawyer Ian Freckelton QC alleged.

The plane was flying normally on a trip from Merimbula to Essendon Airport when it suddenly turned sharply, Mr Freckelton told the court.

In an “extraordinary and life-threatening event” while it was cruising on autopilot, “the aircraft did something that it had never done before,” he said.

“It took a powerful, uncommanded turn to the left.

“One of his passengers was actually thrown out of his seat.”

Over 15 hair-raising minutes he was “able to wrest control of the aeroplane”, Mr Freckelton said.

He said this was happening while the jet was “plummeting toward the ground”.

“He nearly died,” Mr Freckelton said.

Mr Norbury is an architect, property developer and head of company METIER3, and is worth a reported $50 million.

His purchase of a private plane “allowed everyone to attend meetings in a more timely and efficient way,” his lawyer said.

Mr Norbury purchased the jet in 2007 from Kansas-based Cessna Aircraft Company, which has since been renamed Textron Aircraft Inc.

He is also suing aerospace parts manufacturer Rockwell Collins Inc as part of the suit.

The lawyer acting for Textron, Hamish Austin QC, argued it was Mr Norbury’s “basic airmanship” that was at fault in the high-flying drama.

He claimed there had been no reported problems for four years prior to the incident and two test flights afterwards with no identified problems.

He said the flight was “bookended” by two “striking facts”.

“There was never a problem before and there hasn’t been a problem since.

“What it will boil down to though is this: The pilot should have hand-flown the aircraft, instead of leaving it to the autopilot.”

The lawyer acting for Rockwell Collins, Peter Wallis, also argued the pilot’s flying had been at fault.

“Mr Norbury believes that he is very competent pilot,” he said.

“It is human nature … to rate oneself higher than is warranted in all circumstances.”

Mr Norbury is claiming breach of warranty as well as incidental costs.

He is expected to give evidence on Tuesday.

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