SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – A United Airlines flight leaving Hawaii in December 2022 experienced a steep dive and came within 800 feet of hitting the Pacific Ocean after takeoff, according to a recent report.
The plane, a Boeing 777, took off from Kahului Airport in Maui amid heavy rain and a flash flood warning on Dec. 18, 2022, according to The Air Current, an aviation-industry publication. According to data reviewed by the outlet, the plane had reached roughly 2,200 feet before beginning the dive — at about 8,600 feet per minute — and dipping below 775 feet above the ocean.
The dive and recovery happened over a period of only 45 seconds. The flight ultimately landed safely at the San Francisco International Airport.
News of the incident only recently came to public attention after the report, the Associated Press reported.
“When you’re in an airplane like that and it’s going down, you just hold tight to your faith,” said Rod Williams, a passenger who spoke with Nexstar’s KRON about his experience on the Dec. 18 flight. “You hold tight to the things you trust and believe in.”
Williams added that he felt strong “pressure” in his head “when we met that apex and took a dive.”
Indeed, a dive such as the one experienced on the United flight reportedly produces 2.7 times the force of gravity on the plane and its passengers, The Air Current reported.
A spokesperson for United Airlines said an internal safety report was filed after the incident and the aircraft was inspected before its next flight. An investigation led to more training for the pilots, according to the airline.
“Safety remains our highest priority,” the spokesperson said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the agency is still seeking information about the incident, according to a spokesperson.
The incident occurred the same day severe turbulence rocked a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu, seriously injuring 11 people. Airline officials called that an “isolated and unusual event.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.