Southwest Airlines Flight 2786 Narrowly Averts Ocean Plunge, Drops 400 Feet Before Recovery – News18

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Washington D.C., United States of America (USA)

A Southwest commercial airliner takes off from Las Vegas International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., February 8, 2024. (Reuters/File Photo)

Southwest Airlines flight narrowly avoids ocean crash off Hawaii coast after sudden descent, triggering safety concerns and FAA investigation

A Southwest Airlines flight narrowly avoided disaster off the coast of Hawaii when it abruptly aborted a landing due to bad weather conditions, according to US media reports.

The incident occurred in April aboard a Boeing 737 Max 8, where the aircraft rapidly descended, coming within 400 feet of the ocean before the crew managed a last-second recovery, according to a memo obtained by US-based Bloomberg.

The flight, designated as Southwest Flight 2786, had been en route from Honolulu to Lihue Airport when it encountered challenging weather conditions, the New York Post reported. The plane dropped at a rate exceeding 4,000 feet per second, prompting a frantic ascent by the pilot to regain control.

Kit Darby, a former commercial airline pilot and instructor, described the situation as the pilot struggling to manage the aircraft, likening it to a roller coaster experience of intense pitching and power adjustments. The decision to abort the landing was made as the visibility of the runway was obscured by weather conditions, forcing the relatively inexperienced first officer to handle the controls.

According to the memo, the first officer inadvertently pushed forward on the controls while monitoring thrust levels controlled by the plane’s automatic throttle. The pilot then reduced speed, causing the aircraft to rapidly descend and triggering alarms. With the plane nearing the ocean, the captain directed the first officer to increase thrust, resulting in a steep climb at 8,500 feet per minute. The flight safely returned to Honolulu after the incident.

In a statement to The Post, Southwest Airlines stressed its commitment to safety, saying the incident was addressed promptly through its Safety Management System. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently investigating the incident which came shortly before another aviation scare involving severe turbulence on a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 flight from London to Singapore, which left a 73-year-old British man dead and 30 passengers injured.