A US aeroplane travelling from New York to Rome took a turn on Wednesday when the plane dived more than 28,000 feet in just 10 minutes and was forced to reverse course back to the airport.
United Airlines flight 510 never made it to Rome after the Boeing 777 experienced an issue with its cabin pressurisation, forcing the plane to rapidly drop and the pilot to turn the aircraft carrying 270 passengers and 14 crew members around, a spokesman told The New York Post.
The plane took off from Newark Liberty International Airport, in New Jersey close to New York City, at 8:37pm and landed back at the airport at 12:27am instead of its planned
destination of Rome–Fiumicino International Airport, according to flight tracker FlightAware.
The plane returned to Newark “to address a possible loss of cabin pressure,” a United Airlines spokesman said in a statement.
“The flight landed safely and there was never any loss of cabin pressure,” the spokesman said.
The Federal Aviation Administration also said the plane experienced a “pressurisation issue,” prompting it to reverse course.
But before the switch-up, the plane descended some 28,000 feet in just 10 minutes, according to FlightAware data.
The usual descent rate for many commercial airlines is 1500 feet per minute but 2000 feet is normal and aeroplanes can withstand far greater and steeper descents.
At high altitudes humans struggle to breath. But that’s usually fine in aeroplanes as the cabin is pressurised.
But if there are pressurisation issues at high altitude that could lead everyone on board to pass out. So if an issue occurs, pilots descend as quickly as it is safe to do so to an latitude where breathing is easier should the pressurisation systems be compromised
The Italy-bound travellers eventually made it to their destination as they were flown in another aircraft, United Airlines said.
Earlier this year, a United 777 plunged 8600 feet per minute after it left Hawaii’s Maui airport in stormy conditions.
The steep dive saw it come within 775 feet (236 metres) of the ocean before it removed lift and continued on its journey with no further issues.
That incident is under investigation.
Additional reporting by Benedict Brook.
This story appeared in the New York Post and is reproduced with permission.