A US plane carrying 101 people dropped from 38,000 feet to 11,000 feet in 12 minutes when its emergency evacuation slide opened mid-air but the pilot managed to make an emergency landing, averting a tragedy.
The United Airlines plane heading to Los Angeles from Chicago was diverted to Wichita, Kansas, after the emergency slide “inadvertently deployed” in mid-flight. The United Airlines flight 1463 landed at Mid-Continent Airport just after 10:30 pm (local time) yesterday.
The Boeing 737-700 was flying at 38,000 ft at 10:05 pm and dropped to 11,000 ft in 12 minutes due to a loss in cabin pressure, according to FlightAware.com.
A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman told CBS Wichita affiliate KWCH-TV that the emergency evacuation slide opened in mid-flight.
The spokesman said initial reports about a passenger trying to open a door during the flight were false and it is “impossible to open a door at that altitude”.
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The United Airlines released a statement saying 96 passengers and five crew members were on board the flight. All passengers were seated at the time the slide deployed and no one was hurt, the carrier said.
Passengers were taken off the plane about an hour after it landed, KWCH-TV reported. United Airlines said another plane was to take the passengers to their final destinations.
Mike Schroeder, who was flying back home to California, told the TV station that he heard a hiss and a pop, then saw the slide starting to expand.
“We’ve been flying for years, I’ve never seen this before,” Schroeder said. The crew also said they had never experienced a similar incident.
A United Airlines maintenance crew was inspecting the plane to determine the cause.