According to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg, a Southwest Airlines commercial flight came within 400 feet of crashing into the ocean near Hawaii.

Weather conditions forced the pilots to bypass a landing attempt, the outlet said.

“The Boeing Co. 737 Max 8 jet briefly dropped at an abnormally high rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute before the flight crew pulled up to avoid disaster, according to a memo that Southwest distributed to pilots last week, which was seen by Bloomberg News,” Bloomberg stated.

“No one was injured on the flight, which safely returned to its departure airport in Honolulu,” the outlet added.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating the incident.

Per Bloomberg:

The previously unreported mishap adds to a spate of safety incidents that have caught the public’s attention as airlines have ramped up flying since the pandemic. It also comes as Southwest management faces growing pressure from activist firm Elliott Investment Management and other investors over frustrations with the company’s lagging financial performance and insular corporate culture.

“Nothing is more important to Southwest than safety,” the airline said in an emailed statement about the Hawaii flight. “Through our robust Safety Management System, the event was addressed appropriately as we always strive for continuous improvement.”

Southwest Flight 2786 dropped from an altitude of roughly 1,000 feet to 400 feet above the ocean in just a few seconds, according to data from ADS-B Exchange, a flight tracking website. The plane, which was near Lihue Airport on the island of Kauai, then began a rapid climb.

Kit Darby, a former commercial airline pilot and flight instructor, told the outlet the pilot was “pitching up and pitching down with the power and close to out of control — very close.”

He said in an interview that it “would feel like a roller coaster ride.”


From the New York Post:

The plane had departed from Honolulu for a short flight to Lihue Airport. Given the flight time, the captain put the “newer” first officer in command, according to the memo.

The pilot decided to abort the landing as the plane approached the airport because weather conditions blocked the view of the runway.

The first officer “inadvertently” pushed forward on the controls while monitoring the thrust level which moves based on the plane’s automatic throttle, the memo said.

To compensate, the pilot cut the speed which caused the airplane to rapidly descend and sounded alarms.

The captain ordered the first officer to increase thrust, causing the plane to “aggressively” climb at 8,500 feet per minute, the memo said.

The plane returned to Honolulu where it landed safely.

Darby told Bloomberg that flights descend gradually at roughly 1,500 to 2,000 feet per minute as they approach their destination, reaching 800 feet once within five miles of the airport.

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