Miscommunication Causes Terrifying Moments for Passengers

(StraightNews.org) – A plane filled with passengers plunged toward the ocean near Hawaii because of a pilot miscommunication. The incident happened last December, but the National Transportation Safety Board released its report on August 10, saying the co-pilot misheard a request from the captain.

The Boeing 777 took off as usual from Kahului, bound for San Francisco, but at 2,100 feet, turbulence occurred, and the captain asked the co-pilot to reset the wing flaps, but this was miscommunicated, and the plane dropped to 748 feet with 271 terrified passengers on board.

The NTSB report says the flight crew failed to handle the mishap correctly and did not manage the flight path, airspeed, or altitude after the miscommunication. Both captain and co-pilot were sent for retraining and a spokesperson for United Airlines said, “Our pilots voluntarily reported this event and United fully cooperated with the independent investigation so that insights could be used to enhance the safety of the entire industry.”

Nobody was injured in the incident although some passengers later said the experience was harrowing. Traveler Rod Williams said it was like being on a rollercoaster.

Communication breakdown is a common cause of airline incidents, and several fatal accidents have occurred over the past few decades. In 1990, for example, Avianca Flight 52 from Bogota to New York crashed near Long Island, killing 65 people. Bad weather reduced runway access at JFK, and many planes waited to land on the same runway or were rerouted to other airports. The Avianca flight was low on fuel when control of its pathway was transferred to a new command, but the fuel shortage was not communicated. The new controllers, therefore, sent the plane on a journey it didn’t have sufficient fuel to complete.

The worst incident occurred in Spain in 1977 when 583 people died because a pilot believed he had clearance to take off when in fact he should have waited for a second instruction. The KLM plane smashed into another aircraft on the fog-affected runway.

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