Korea Air flight drops almost 27,000ft in 15 minutes injuring 17 people

Korea Air flight drops almost 27,000ft in 15 minutes injuring 17 people

A Korean Air flight had to be diverted due to a severe fault on Saturday after it descended 26,900ft in just 15 minutes, resulting in the hospitalisation of 17 passengers.

Passengers on the Korean Air flight KE189 finally arrived safely in Taichung, Taiwan, a day after it was diverted back to the Incheon International Airport.

Nearly 50 minutes into the flight on Saturday, a fault in the Boeing 737 Max 8’s pressurisation system reportedly triggered alarms inside the flight. As a result, the aircraft rapidly descended 26,900 feet in just 15 minutes, according to online flight tracker Flightradar24’s data.

Passengers reportedly experienced hyperventilation and ear pain, with 17 people requiring hospitalisation upon landing in Taichung, Taiwan. Korean Air, in a statement shared with The Independent, said: “17 passengers have been attended to by medical professionals in Korea, and have been discharged without severe injuries.”

The flight with 125 passengers onboard was scheduled to fly to Taiwan at around 4.45pm local time on 22 June. The flight circled back to Incheon Airport three hours after takeoff due to the emergency, according to Korea JoongAng Daily.

The plane returned to its departing airport at 7.38pm, Yonhap news agency reported.

Despite the frightening ordeal, there were no major injuries reported. The flight resumed the next morning with a different aircraft, following investigations into the incident by Korean Air.

Passengers described scenes of panic and distress onboard, with oxygen masks deployed and children crying during the sudden descent. One passenger, who was identified as Tseng by The Taipei Times, told the outlet that children on the flight were crying when oxygen masks were deployed during the flight’s plunge.

He said he was afraid that the plane might hit the ground.

Meanwhile, a Korean Air spokesperson was reported as saying that the airline is conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the pressurisation system malfunction, intending to address any maintenance issues before returning the aircraft to service.

Earlier this year, a Korean Airlines plane came into contact with a Cathay Pacific Airways aircraft at New Chitose Airport on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. There were no injuries.

Last year, Korean Air confirmed on its website that it would be “measuring the average weight of passengers along with their carry-on items for flight safety”. It followed a similar move announced by Air New Zealand in June last year.

Earlier this month, Singapore Airlines offered compensation to all passengers who were injured after a flight to London suffered extreme air turbulence last month.

The airline sent emails offering $10,000 (£7,800) each to passengers who sustained minor injuries. It said it was open to discussing further compensation for those who suffered more serious injuries.

The SQ321 flight from Bangkok to London suffered severe turbulence over Myanmar, causing it to instantly plunge 178ft.

Korean Air said: “We are fully cooperating with all relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident. We have provided comprehensive support to affected passengers, including accommodation, meals, and transportation arrangements.”

Korean Air also apologised to “all affected by this incident”.

Source: independent.co.uk