Southwest flight plunges to within 400 feet of ocean; FAA investigating

Authorities are investigating after a Southwest Airlines plane plunged midflight in April, coming within 400 feet of hitting the ocean off the coast of Hawaii, according to multiple reports.

Airline officials shared the incident in a memo distributed to its pilots last week, Bloomberg News reported. Southwest Flight 2786, a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet, dropped more than 4,000 feet per minute, going from an altitude of 1,000 feet to 400 feet above the ocean in seconds, according to the news outlet.

The plane’s captain ordered an “aggressive climb,” and the plane, which was near Lihue Airport on the island of Kauai, safely returned to Honolulu, Bloomberg reported.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, according to CNN.

“Nothing is more important to Southwest than Safety,” airline officials said in a statement, according to Hawaii News Now. “Through our robust Safety Management System, the event was addressed appropriately, as we always strive for continuous improvement.”

Southwest determined the incident happened after the plane earlier had to abort an attempted landing due to inclement weather that kept the pilots from being able to see the runway as needed, Bloomberg reported. A “newer” first officer inadvertently pushed forward on the control column and then cut the speed, trigger alarms, according to the news outlet.

Kit Darby, a former commercial airline pilot and flight instructor, told Bloomberg that for passengers, the flight would have felt “like a roller coaster ride.” Retired pilot Patrick McNamee told HNN that he didn’t “believe that anything was unsafe in this,” though he acknowledged it likely scared passengers.

No one was injured on the flight.

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