A Southwest pilot nearly crashed his flight into the ocean: report

  • A pilot's error caused a Southwest flight to nearly crash into the ocean, Bloomberg reported.

  • The captain let his "newer" first officer control the plane near Hawaii, according to the report.

  • Another flight almost crashed into the sea in the same area in 2022 due to poor weather conditions.

A Southwest Airlines flight in April almost crashed into the ocean off the coast of Hawaii after a pilot accidentally sent the plane into a dive, Bloomberg reported.

In an internal memo sent to pilots last week viewed by Bloomberg, the airline explained that despite bad weather forecasts, the plane's captain put his "newer" first officer in control of the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane.

When bad weather forced the plane to abort its attempted landing at Kauai's Lihue Airport, the less-experienced pilot "inadvertently" pushed the steering yoke forward before reducing the plane's speed, Bloomberg reported, citing the memo.

That caused the plane to plummet from an altitude of 1,000 feet down to just 400 feet above the ocean in only a few seconds, according to the report.

When warning alarms started going off in the cockpit, the captain commanded the first officer to accelerate, causing the plane to "aggressively" climb back up into the sky at a rate of 8,500 feet a minute, according to Bloomberg.

The flight returned to Honolulu, and no one was injured, according to the report.

While the Bloomberg report referred to the first officer as the "less experienced" pilot on board, it should be noted that even a first officer on a major airline still has a wealth of flying experience.

Southwest did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

"Nothing is more important to Southwest than safety," Southwest Airlines said in a statement to Bloomberg. "Through our robust Safety Management System, the event was addressed appropriately as we always strive for continuous improvement."

The April flight—which had not been previously reported—echoes a flight over Hawaii in 2022 that plummeted after leaving Maui.

UA Flight 1722 was headed to San Francisco in December in heavy rain conditions when a "miscommunication" caused the plane to dive within 800 feet of the ocean, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

On that flight, a first officer misheard what level to sets the plane's flaps, ultimately causing the plane to nose-dive for roughly 10 seconds.

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