A United Airlines plane crashed several thousand meters towards the Pacific Ocean after taking off from Maui

A United Airlines plane had gone into a steep nosedive after taking off from Maui in December. The plane crashed from 2,200 feet to 775 feet over the Pacific Ocean before recovering and continuing on its way to San Francisco, officials confirmed to CBS News on Sunday.

Flight UA1722 descended at a speed of 8,600 feet per minute, according to preliminary data from Flightradar24.com. The incident happened after the plane took off during a storm with heavy rain and a flash flood warning, and was first reported by Air Current.

Rod Williams, a passenger who was on the flight with his wife and two young children, said some passengers screamed during the incident. “We took a normal rate of climb and then all of a sudden the nose moved up quite, quite dramatically for maybe 3 to 5 seconds,” he told CBS News. “And at that point there was a series of screams that got let out because it was an unusual climb at that point. But it was very short and a very dramatic descent followed.”

The pilots filed the appropriate safety report after landing in San Francisco, United Airlines told CBS News in a statement.

“United then closely coordinated with the FAA and ALPA an investigation that ultimately resulted in the pilots receiving additional training,” the airline said, referring to the Air Line Pilots Association — a union that represents most pilots.
“Safety remains our top priority.”

CBS News flight safety analyst Robert Sumwalt called the burglary “an alarming event.”

“The good thing is you had two trained pilots who could act and prevent this from becoming a major disaster,” said Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and a retired 737 captain.

The flight’s pilots have fully cooperated with the investigation and are still on their retraining program. It’s unclear if air traffic controllers noticed the plane’s steep dive, and there’s no audio recordings suggesting it.

The Federal Aviation Administration encourages voluntary reporting of incidents. Reports are treated confidentially and are intended to increase security and make necessary changes. “United Airlines flight crew reported the incident to the FAA as part of a voluntary safety reporting program. The agency has reviewed the incident and taken appropriate action,” the FAA said in a statement.

On the same day, another flight from Hawaii experienced severe turbulence and 25 people on board were injured. The storm system that wreaked havoc in Hawaii was the same one that prompted Southwest Airlines to do so Scrub thousands of flights while on vacation season because they could not recover. The airline is now investigated by federal officials on handling its schedule after the massive storm.

The NTSB has not opened an investigation into the United incident at this time.

“I think there are a number of factors that could have led to it, the weather could have been a factor,” Sumwalt said. “As far as I know, there were thunderstorms in the area at the time. It could be something as simple yet deadly as a distraction in the cockpit.”

Several security concerns on flights and airports have made headlines in recent months. In January, an American Airlines plane and a Delta plane almost collided on the runway at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.

The pilots of both planes were subpoenaed after the National Transportation Safety Board said it had tried to interview the pilots three times and they would not cooperate. according to CBS New York. The pilots do not want their statements recorded, said a union representative.

Last week, a Southwest plane was told it could take off from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, just as a FedEx cargo plane was told it could land on the same runway. The cargo plane was forced to change course after descending to about 150 feet, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. reports the Associated Press. It landed 11 minutes later.

And in Los Angeles last week, a bus collided with a plane at Los Angeles International Airport. according to CBS Los Angeles. The low-speed crash occurred when a passenger bus collided with an American Airlines plane on the taxiway. Four people were taken to hospital and the only person on the plane – a worker – was treated but declined to go to hospital.

Kathryn Krupnik contributed to this report.

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