FAA is investigating the Southwest flight that ended up in the ocean within 400 feet of the crash


By Gregory Wallace and Ross Levitt, CNN

New York (CNN) — A federal investigation is underway after a Southwest Airlines flight plunged into the ocean off the coast of a Hawaiian island.

The incident occurred on April 11 aboard Southwest Flight 2786, but only came to light publicly on Friday after Bloomberg reported that Southwest had sent a memo to pilots about the incident. Bloomberg reported that the memo indicated that a “newer” first officer was flying at the time and accidentally pushed forward on the control column.

Flight tracking data from ADS-B Exchange shows the plane falling at a speed of more than 4,000 feet per minute while only 600 feet above sea level. The Boeing 737 Max 8 flew as low as 400 feet before rapidly climbing.

“Nothing is more important to Southwest than safety,” the airline said. “Thanks to our robust safety management system, the event was handled appropriately as we always strive for continuous improvement.”

In a brief statement to CNN, Southwest acknowledged the incident but did not elaborate on the memo or why the incident occurred.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was immediately aware of the incident and had opened an investigation.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association did not comment.

The flight was an interisland flight from Honolulu’s main airport to Lihue Airport on the neighboring island of Kauai. The internal memo states that the pilots decided to abort a landing there in bad weather, according to Bloomberg.

Tracking data shows the plane then returned to Honolulu.

In December 2022, a United Airlines flight departing from another Hawaiian airport also plunged toward the ocean in bad weather, 750 feet from the disaster, the National Transportation Safety Board said. The NTSB concluded that the pilots had incorrectly communicated the aircraft’s flap settings. The NTSB has not yet said whether it will investigate this latest incident.

The CNN Wire
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