L.A. NOW

Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Southwest passengers recount harrowing ordeal as hole opens in plane fuselage

Hole400_lj0jjfncPassengers described a harrowing journey Friday when a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Sacramento suffered a rapid loss of cabin pressure, and the crew found a hole in the top of the fuselage.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Southwest said a flight attendant suffered a minor injury during the steep descent, but no passengers were hurt on the aborted Flight 812.

But some passengers told various media organizations that the injuries were more serious.

Photos: Hole opens up in plane during flight

Several passengers told the Sacramento Bee that a flight attendant suffered a head wound and that he and several other passengers lost consciousness. Passenger Christine Ziegler, 44, told the Bee she could see the flight attendant was bleeding from the head.

The Boeing 737 landed safely at 4:07 p.m. at Yuma International Airport, according to the FAA. The pilot "made a rapid, controlled descent" from 36,000 feet to 11,000 feet after the loss of cabin pressurization.

The cause of the decompression was unknown, said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

Southwest Flight Diverted

"Just unreal. All of a sudden there's like a little explosion. Sounded like an explosion at least. All of a sudden there's a sunroof in the middle of the plane. A big, old hole. You see daylight running through it," passenger David Smith told KCRA-TV.

On her Twitter feed, Shawna Malvini Redden, who identified herself as a passenger on the plane, posted photos of other passengers wearing oxygen masks dangling from the cabin ceiling.

"Loss of cabin pressure, hands down the scariest experience of my life," she wrote.

Fire trucks from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma greeted the flight, but no rescue was necessary, said Gen Grosse, corporate account manager for the Yuma County Airport Authority.

But upon landing, "the flight crew discovered a hole in the top of the aircraft," Southwest said in a news release.

"You can see daylight through it," passenger Brenda Reese told KCRA. Reese also said a few passengers passed out when they had trouble getting oxygen from their masks.

Flight attendants were "amazing" in helping everyone out, she said.

Passengers said they cheered when the plane landed.

ALSO:

Traces of radioactive iodine are found in herd’s milk

Two hurt in 'hot-boarding' incident in Ocean Beach neighborhood in San Diego

-- Michael Finnegan and Shelby Grad

Top photo: An image provided by passenger Christine Ziegler shows a hole in a Southwest Airlines jet. Credit: Associated Press

Bottom photo: Another image from passenger Brenda Reese shows the damaged plane. Credit: Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (13)

Many more years ago than I care to admit, a high-school science teacher taught me that a hole in a pressurized vessel can cause sudden decompression, but I suppose we will have to wait on the FAA to tell us the real cause.

'Passengers passed out when they had trouble getting oxygen from their masks' - and yet airlines have now been forced to remove oxygen masks from the lavatories in case of terrorism.... as we see, decompression events like this happen far more than terrorist activity, I pity anyone who has the misfortune to be in the lavatory at this time and has no source of oxygen. They won't be able to make it back to their seats in time.

Low fares-no bags' fee but you get a free suntan and roller coaster rush? I'd say it's time to start flying another airline. Southwest credo is rush, rush rush--their planes are back in the air shortly after they've landed. And, if you've heard about their cattle call-type boarding and de-planing, it is true. I'd say they need a new game plan otherwise people are going to get hurt or worse and it won't be just a bump on the head.

these people should thank the pilots for saving their lives, not sue Southwest, which I'm sure will be happening!1

The episode with Southwest Flight 812 is eerily similar to what happened to Aloha Airlines Flight 243 on April 28, 1988. That Boeing 737 was at 24,000 when a structural failure caused the aircraft to lose a large portion of the roof over 1st class. A flight attendant was blown out of the plane but the crew managed to land the plane safely.

Before the flight, a passenger had observed a large crack in the fuselage but had said nothing to the crew.

Metal fatigue at its best !!!

AS I APPROACHED SAN ANTONIO FROM A FLIGHT DELAYED FOR 3 HOURS HOW HAPPY I WAS TO BE HOME WHEN THE PIOLOT ANNOUNCED A THANK YOU CAUSE THE ORIGINAL PLANE HAD ENGINE FAILURE SINCE MY REGULAR SAN ANTONIO AUSTIN DALLAS HOUSTON IS DRIVEN BY MY AGING SUBURBAN NEXT TRIP TO SEE DALE' COUSINS THAT IS NASCAR FAME SO WE NEED A TRAIN

This is nother case of "material fatigue"- due to accumulated pressurization-depressurization -each time you take-off or land. Over time, such as 20 years - the aluminum structure weakens and caves in. This happened to an Aloha B737/100 - some 15 years agao-as well as a United B747/100 also over Hawaii.

Flight attendants were amazing? Well, didn't they perform as trained?

Don't worry, bags fly for free.

10 bucks says the people who couldn't get the masks on will listen better to the flight attendants next time ... :)

Metal fatigue as quoted above. First discovered by the British in the 50's when the Comet, 1st jet transport, crashed in the Med. Completely predicatble as stated above. It's just a matter of time. Nothing last forever. Time to buy new planes. You can't patch your way out of this one. Keep a parachute in your carry on.

The time of useful consciousness at 35,000 feet for a person of normal health is 30-60 seconds.

Sounds like a short amount of time, but an eternity if you have an oxygen mask dangling in front of you.

If you have time to panic, you have time to save your own life.

Note: I am an experienced skydiver, have trained in a USAF altitude chamber, and have done a skydive from a plane flying at 30,000 feet using an oxygen mask.


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.

Categories




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: