Air Traffic Staff to Alarmingly Low Flight: 'You Good?'

Southwest flight drops to 500 feet above ground in Oklahoma, triggering air traffic control concern
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2024 11:05 AM CDT
Air Traffic Staff to Alarmingly Low Flight: 'You Good?'
A Southwest Airlines plane flies over the central United States, heading for Chicago's Midway International Airport from Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

If you're low-key wary of flying lately, we can't say we blame you, and the latest news out of Oklahoma probably won't ease your concerns. The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into Southwest Flight 4069 out of Las Vegas, which dipped to an alarmingly low altitude just after midnight on Wednesday as it approached Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, per the AP.

"Southwest 4069, low-altitude alert. You good out there?" an air traffic controller can be heard asking in a recording by, per CNN, which notes the pilots' response wasn't audible. At the time, the Boeing 737 was about 9 miles from its destination airport, cruising over Yukon, Oklahoma—just 500 feet or so over a high school, according to transponder data cited by USA Today. The ATC team had been alerted to the jet's low altitude by an automated system.

After that alert, the plane made a brief ascent, then made its way to a safe landing in Oklahoma City, with no reported injuries. "Southwest is following its robust safety management system and is in contact with the [FAA] to understand and address any irregularities with the aircraft's approach to the airport," a Southwest rep said in a statement. The incident comes just two months after another Southwest flight went into a dive off the coast of Hawaii, falling 4,000 feet per minute until crew managed to right the plane. There were no injuries, and the jet landed safely in Honolulu. (More Southwest Airlines stories.)

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