The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate what passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight this week described as a scary dive before the flight leveled off and made a normal landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina.
Flight 3426 was coming from Tampa, Fla., late Tuesday when passenger Shelley Wills said the public address system came on and the pilot said, “‘We’re going down.’ And everyone is looking around like, ‘Is this a joke? Is he serious?’ And then you felt the nosedive,” Wills told WTVD-TV in Raleigh.
Wills told the television station that passengers started pulling out cellphones to call loved ones. She said she texted her daughter and husband, “I love you Alyssa. My plane is going down.”
In an email to a passenger reported by CNN, the airline said the captain was making a routine communication to inform flight attendants of a pressure change in the cabin and telling them that the plane would descend. The pilot inadvertently activated the public address system, the email said.
“As the captain was communicating his plan with the flight attendants, he inadvertently activated the PA system in the cabin,” the email said. “We sincerely regret any confusion caused by the relay of the information.”
In a statement released on Thursday, the airline said it wanted to "provide some context about a maintenance issue aboard Southwest Airlines flight 3426 on Tuesday afternoon from Tampa Bay to Raleigh-Durham."
"As part of the procedure to resolve the issue, the captain notified the cabin using the public address system that he was going down to a lower altitude just before an unplanned but controlled descent. The maintenance issue was resolved before the flight safely landed at Raleigh-Durham. The flight carried 96 customers and a crew of five," the airline said.