Korean Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 Descends 21,000 Feet, 13 Injured

By Ivan PetrenkoJun 25, 2024 07:30 AMNews
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blue and white passenger plane on airport during daytime
blue and white passenger plane on airport during daytime. Source: unsplash

A Korean Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 experienced a depressurization incident on Saturday, leading to a rapid descent of 21,000 feet and sending 13 passengers to the hospital. This incident adds to the troubling history surrounding the 737 MAX 8, although no serious injuries were reported.

The incident occurred on Korean Air flight KE189, traveling from Seoul to Taichung. About 50 minutes into the flight, while flying above Jeju Island, the pilots detected a fault in the pressurization system. The aircraft, carrying 125 passengers, descended from 30,000 feet to 9,000 feet within 15 minutes before safely returning to Seoul Incheon Airport at 19:38.

Tracking data from Flightradar24 shows the aircraft, a 2019 Boeing 737 MAX 8 (registration HL8352), had no further flights following the incident. According to South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, passengers experienced health issues due to the sudden change in cabin pressure. Reports indicate two passengers suffered nosebleeds, while 15 others reported ear pain and hyperventilation, with 13 being transported to local hospitals.

Passengers described the experience as terrifying, likening it to five times the gravity of a rollercoaster. Oxygen masks were deployed, and cabin crew quickly assisted passengers, particularly during the meal service when the descent began. Despite the distress, the injuries were not life-threatening.

Korean Air issued an apology and stated that it is investigating the incident to ensure proper maintenance. Passengers were accommodated overnight, and a replacement Boeing 737 MAX 8 (registration HL8351) completed the journey to Taichung the following day.

This incident comes amid ongoing scrutiny of the 737 MAX series, which has faced significant safety concerns in recent years. Despite the gravity of the event, neither Korean Air nor Boeing have yet provided detailed statements on their websites.

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