United Airlines flight plummets 1,400ft in under a minute

Incident occurred shortly after takeoff from Maui

Lucy Thackray
Monday 13 February 2023 11:46 GMT
The incident was aboard a United Airlines flight
The incident was aboard a United Airlines flight (Getty Images)

A United Airlines flight plunged 1,400ft in less than a minute shortly after take off from Maui, a report has found.

Flight UA1722 had taken off from Maui’s Kahului Airport in December 2022, bound for San Francisco, when it got into trouble at just 2,200ft, aviation blog One Mile at a Time reported.

Once reaching that height, flight-tracking data shows that the Boeing 777-200 took a deep dive at a speed of 8,600ft per minute, descending to just 775ft above sea level.

At that speed, the aircraft had around five seconds before it would reach sea level, One Mile at a Time observed.

The Boeing righted itself after around 45 seconds of steep descent. It went on to climb safely to 33,000ft and flew onward to San Francisco without incident.

There was no Air Traffic Control audio around the incident, OMAAT reported, suggesting that air traffic controllers may not have noticed the dive.

The incident occured on 18 December 2022. Aviation analysts @Theaircurrent have compiled a report based on FlightRadar24 tracking data, calling it one of “the industry’s close calls”, which they released on 12 February.

One Mile at a Time noted that Hawaii had suffered several incidents around poor weather conditions at the time of the United takeoff.

A spokesperson for United said: “After landing at SFO, the pilots filed the appropriate safety report. United then closely coordinated with the FAA and ALPA on an investigation that ultimately resulted in the pilots receiving additional training.

“Safety remains our highest priority.”

It comes after a Qatar Airways plane dropped 1,000ft in 24 seconds shortly after a January take-off from Doha.

One passenger told press that people had “screamed and vomited” in the cabin as the aircraft dipped in altitude.

“The first thing I did was look out of the window to try and see how high we were, but it was pitch black. My youngest son next to me was terrified – me too – so I tried to stay calm for his sake,” said Lucas Andersson.

“But it sure crossed my mind… this is it, we are going down.”

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