NTSB cites United Airlines pilot error in Boeing 777 altitude loss incident after take-off from Kahului, Hawaii

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© Maarten Van Den Driessche

In December 2022, United Airlines flight UA1722 experienced a sudden loss of altitude shortly after departing from Kahului, Hawaii, in a Boeing 777-200 aircraft registered N212UA. The plane descended from 2,100 feet to 748 feet above water before the crew managed to recover.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) attributed the incident to the flight crew’s failure to properly manage the plane’s vertical flight path, airspeed, and pitch attitude. This failure stemmed from a miscommunication about the captain’s desired flap setting during the initial climb.

The ground proximity warning system (GPWS) provided alerts to the crew about the descent, and both pilots acknowledged hearing these warnings. The descent was reversed around 748 feet above water, and the remainder of the flight was uneventful.

United Airlines responded by emphasising the importance of safety, drawing lessons from the incident to enhance pilot training. The NTSB reported that United conducted an awareness campaign about flight path management in their training centre. Boeing did not provide a comment on the incident.

No cockpit voice or flight data recorder records were available to the NTSB due to a two-month delay in learning about the incident.

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