Investigation launched after Boeing aircraft drops 'within 400ft' of ocean off Hawaiian coast

Data shows the Southwest Airline Boeing 737 Max 8 dropped at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute Credit: AP

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating after a US airline flight came within 400 feet of the ocean following an aborted landing attempt off the coast of Hawaii.

Flight tracking data shows the Southwest Airline Boeing 737 Max 8 plunged at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute

The plane was travelling from Honolulu Airport to nearby Lihue Airport on April 11.

The incident came to light on Friday last week after Bloomberg reported that Southwest had sent a memo to pilots about the incident.

The memo indicated a “newer” first officer was flying at the time and inadvertently pushed forward on the control column, according to the report.

In a statement given to CNN, Southwest acknowledged the incident but did not address the memo or why the incident took place.

“Nothing is more important to Southwest than safety,” the airline said.

“Through our robust Safety Management System, the event was addressed appropriately as we always strive for continuous improvement.”

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association has not commented.

In December 2022, a United Airlines flight departing a different Hawaiian airport also dove toward the ocean in bad weather, coming 748 feet from disaster, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The NTSB concluded the pilots miscommunicated about the settings of the airplane’s flaps.

The NTSB has not yet said whether it will investigate this latest incident.

The incident is the latest in a string of issues with some of Boeing's most-used aircraft, including a door of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 flying off mid-flight in January.

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