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Pilot Comes Within 400 Feet Of Slamming A Southwest Flight Into The Pacific Ocean

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight between islands in Hawaii experienced a heart-stopping thrill ride in April as the plane plunged and came within 400 feet of crashing into the Pacific Ocean. The FAA is now investigating precisely why Southwest Flight 2786 nearly splashed down, USA Today reports. However, the airline stated to the newspaper that “the event was addressed appropriately.” OK then.

The relatively short Southwest flight departed Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu and headed 100 miles northwest to Lihue Airport. An internal memo obtained by Bloomberg detailed the unusual sequence of events after an aborted landing. An inexperienced first officer inadvertently pushed the Boeing 737 Max 8’s control column forward, sending the aircraft into a dive of over 4,000 feet per minute. It was faster than a typical descent but within the plane’s certification.

The flight crew then performed what the memo referred to as a “roller-coaster maneuver” to pull the Boeing up out of the descent. The pair increased thrust and ascended at a rate of 8,500 feet per minute. There were no reported injuries.

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This incident over the Pacific Ocean wasn’t the only close call for a Southwest flight in April. A different flight was cleared to cross a runway at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. just moments before air traffic control cleared a JetBlue flight to take off on the same runway. Thankfully, a controller spotted the error and stopped both planes within 400 feet of each other to avert the potential collision.

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