FAA investigating Southwest flight that dropped within a few hundred feet over the ocean in Hawaii

June 15, 2024
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FAA probes flight that plunged off Hawaiian coast


FAA investigates Southwest flight which plunged off Hawaiian coast

00:27

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a Southwest Airlines passenger flight that plunged within several hundred feet of the ocean off Hawaii in April.

Weather conditions on the island of Kauai prompted pilots of Southwest flight 2786 on April 11 to bypass a landing attempt at the Lihue airport prior to the rapid decline towards the ocean, according to air traffic control audio from liveatc.net reviewed by CBS News. The flight eventually returned to Honolulu, where it landed safely.

Bloomberg News was first to report the incident. Citing a memo that Southwest distributed to pilots last week, it reported the plane came within 400 feet of falling into the ocean. Bloomberg News said the Boeing Co. 737 Max 8 jet briefly dropped at more than 4,000 feet per minute before the flight crew pulled it up to avoid disaster. There were no injuries on the flight. 

In a statement to CBS News, Southwest Airlines said the “event was addressed appropriately.”

“Nothing is more important to Southwest than safety. Through our robust Safety Management System, the event was addressed appropriately as we always strive for continuous improvement,” Southwest Airlines said Friday.

On Thursday, federal officials said they were investigating an unusual rolling motion on another Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 that might have been caused by a damaged backup power-control unit.

The FAA said it was working with Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the incident on a May 25 flight from Phoenix to Oakland. Southwest says it’s working with the FAA and Boeing.

The FAA said the plane went into a “Dutch roll,” the name given to the combination of a yawing motion when the tail slides and the plane rocks from wingtip to wingtip — a motion said to mimic the movement of a Dutch ice skater. 

Updated information provided by the NTSB on Friday said it happened when the jetliner was at about 34,000 feet.

Pilots are trained to recover from the condition, and the plane landed safely in Oakland about an hour later.

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