Korea Air flight falls nearly 27,000 feet in 15 minutes, injuring 17

A Korean Air flight had to be diverted due to a serious malfunction Saturday after descending 26,900 feet in just 15 minutes, resulting in the hospitalization of 17 passengers.

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

Nearly 50 minutes into Saturday’s flight, a failure in the Boeing 737 Max 8’s pressurization system triggered alarms within the flight. As a result, the plane rapidly descended 26,900 feet in just 15 minutes, according to data from online flight tracker Flightradar24.

Passengers reportedly experienced hyperventilation and ear pain, and 17 people required hospitalization upon landing in Taichung, Taiwan. Korean Air, in a statement shared with The independentsaid: “17 passengers have been treated by medical professionals in Korea and have been discharged without serious injuries.”

The flight with 125 passengers on board was scheduled to fly to Taiwan around 4:45 p.m. local time on June 22. The flight returned to Incheon airport three hours after takeoff due to the emergency, according to JoongAng Korean Newspaper.

The plane returned to its departure airport at 7:38 p.m. Yonhap the news agency reported.

Despite the ordeal, no serious injuries were 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 anguish on board, with oxygen masks deployed and children crying during the sudden descent. A passenger, who was identified as Tseng by The Taipei Timestold the outlet that children on the flight cried when oxygen masks were deployed during the flight’s drop.

He said he was afraid the plane would fall to the ground.

Meanwhile, a Korean Air spokesperson reportedly said the airline is conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the pressurization system malfunction, with the intention of addressing any maintenance issues before returning the plane to service.

Earlier this year, a Korean Airlines plane came into contact with a Cathay Pacific Airways plane at the new Chitose airport on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan. There were no injuries.

Last year, Korean Air confirmed on its website that it would “measure the average weight of passengers along with their carry-on luggage to ensure flight safety.” This 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 suffered minor injuries. He said he was open to discussing further compensation for those who suffered more serious injuries.

Flight SQ321 from Bangkok to London experienced severe turbulence over Myanmar, causing it to instantly fall 178 feet.

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 apologized to “everyone affected by this incident.”

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