Southwest Airlines plane somehow escapes a ghastly crash just 400 feet from ocean in Hawaii - Hindustan Times
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Southwest Airlines plane somehow escapes a ghastly crash just 400 feet from ocean in Hawaii

Jun 15, 2024 08:16 AM IST

Southwest Flight 2786 avoided a catastrophic crash off Hawaii by just 400 feet from ocean.

A Southwest Airlines flight narrowly avoided a catastrophic crash off the coast of Hawaii in April, coming within just 400 feet of the ocean after aborting a landing due to adverse weather conditions, according to a Bloomberg report.

Southwest Airlines flight's heart-stopping plunge over Hawaii. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)(AP)
Southwest Airlines flight's heart-stopping plunge over Hawaii. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)(AP)

During the flight, a Boeing 737 Max 8 plummeted several hundred feet within seconds before the crew managed to regain control just in time to escape a deadly crash. No injuries were reported among the passengers on board.

Southwest Flight 2786 was at approximately 1,000 feet altitude when it abandoned its landing attempt due to poor visibility caused by weather conditions. Data from ADS-B Exchange, a flight tracking website, indicated that the aircraft dropped to within 400 feet of the sea. The flight crew, in a state of panic, began a rapid climb to avoid the ocean.

Kit Darby, a former commercial airline pilot and flight instructor told Bloomberg, “The pilot was pitching up and pitching down with the power and close to out of control — very close. It would feel like a roller coaster ride.”

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What happened with Southwest Airlines Flight 2786?

The flight had departed from Honolulu on a short journey to Lihue Airport. Due to the brief flight time, the captain placed the “newer” first officer in command. As the plane neared the airport, deteriorating weather conditions obscured the runway, prompting the pilot to abort the landing.

The memo explained that the first officer “inadvertently” pushed forward on the controls while monitoring the thrust level, which adjusts automatically. Then, the pilot reduced the speed, causing the aircraft to descend at an alarming rate of more than 4,000 feet per second and triggering alarms. The captain then ordered the first officer to increase thrust, resulting in the plane climbing “aggressively” at a rate of 8,500 feet per minute.

The plane eventually returned to Honolulu, where it landed safely.

Darby told Bloomberg that typical descents are much more gradual, at roughly 1,500 to 2,000 feet per minute as flights approach their destination, reaching around 800 feet within five miles of the airport.

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“Nothing is more important to Southwest than Safety.” The Southwest Airlines spokesperson told The New York Post, and added, “Through our robust Safety Management System, the event was addressed appropriately as we always strive for continuous improvement.”

The airline now pledged to review industry and internal data to determine if protocols and training require updates.

According to Bloomberg, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating the incident.

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