Airliner Plunged, Stopping Just Above Ocean Off Hawaii

FAA investigates Southwest flight after first officer's error
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2024 11:40 AM CDT
FAA Investigates Plunge of Southwest Flight Off Hawaii
Ninini Point Lighthouse at Lihue airport, Kauai island, Hawaii.   (Getty/okimo)

A Southwest Airlines pilot inadvertently sent a Boeing Co. 737 Max 8 into a plunge off the coast of Hawaii, dropping at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute before the flight crew pulled the plane up. A Southwest memo to pilots said the airliner came within 400 feet of the ocean surface, Bloomberg reports. The plane then landed safely in Honolulu, and no one was injured. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, which took place in April and had not been previously reported.

The flight had first tried to land at Kauai's Lihue Airport, but weather conditions forced the crew to abort. The pilot had put the less experienced first officer in control of the plane, the airline memo said, who "inadvertently" pushed the steering yoke forward before cutting the plane's speed. That caused the plane to drop from an altitude of 1,000 feet to 400 feet above the water in a few seconds. With alarms sounding in the cockpit, the captain ordered the first officer to accelerate, bringing the plane quickly back up at a rate of 8,500 feet a minute, per Bloomberg. The "event was addressed appropriately," Southwest told CBS News. (Federal agencies are investigating the midair wobble of a Southwest flight this month.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.