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Southwest Incident: Flight Descends Within 400 Feet Over Ocean

The incident is under investigation by the FAA.

A Southwest 737 MAX 8 over the threshold in Las Vegas. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

On April 11, 2024, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 was approaching Lihue airport in Hawaii, on an inter-island flight from Honolulu.

The event occurred on flight WN2786, and came to media attention on Friday after a report by Bloomberg highlighted an internal memo describing the incident. From there, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it will be investigating the incident.

During the go-around process after aborting the first landing attempt in challenging weather conditions, the aircraft came as close as 400 feet from the ocean. The flight briefly dropped more than 4,000 feet per minute, before pulling up at rates up to 8,500 feet per minute. The flight ended up diverting back to Honolulu, landing safely.

The incident comes after the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that they are investigating another Southwest Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight, which suffered a ‘Dutch’ roll’ during a flight from Phoenix to Oakland.

No injuries were reported. The internal memo stated that the go-around occurred when the first officer (the pilot flying at the time) could not see the runway at minimums, and the first officer “inadvertently” pushed the yoke down, while following the auto-throttle. Noticing an increase in speed, the pilot cut the throttle, causing the plane to descend rapidly until the flight crew noticed their predicament.

Arya Karnik

Author

  • Arya Karnik

    Ever since he was a kid, Arya has been interested in aviation. With his entire family overseas, he has taken many family trips worldwide to places like the United Kingdom and India. He lives in Colorado but attends The University of Alabama, studying Computer Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. He hopes to obtain his PPL and eventually translate his engineering degree to working in operations at an airline.

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