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Pilots to get more training after SFO-bound flight nearly crashed into the Pacific

A plane hovers above an airport runway.
A United Airlines Boeing 777 takes off from San Francisco International Airport. | Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images | Source: Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Reports just surfaced that a December flight bound for San Francisco International Airport (SFO) nearly crashed into the Pacific Ocean shortly after taking off from Maui.

United Flight 1772 took off from Kahului Airport amidst a heavy rainstorm on the afternoon of Dec. 18 and suddenly dropped from 2,200 feet to approximately 750 feet above the ocean, subjecting the passengers to 2.7 times the force of gravity, according to reports.

The Boeing 777 was able to quickly recover and continue its ascent, and the rest of the flight occurred without incident, ultimately arriving in San Francisco 27 minutes ahead of schedule.

The incident, which was confirmed by United Airlines and documented by local paper Beat of Hawaii, transpired over the course of less than a minute. According to aviation news site the Air Current, the event was not discussed with air traffic controllers as it occurred.

“After landing at SFO, the pilots filed the appropriate safety report,” United Airlines said in a statement. “United then closely coordinated with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and ALPA (Air Line Pilots Association) on an investigation that ultimately resulted in the pilots receiving additional training. Safety remains our highest priority.”

United also noted that the pilots, whose training program is currently ongoing, fully cooperated with the investigation and have approximately 25,000 hours of flying experience between them.

The same storm caused severe turbulence that resulted in injuries for passengers onboard Hawaiian Airlines Flight 35 from Phoenix to Honolulu that same day.

The Standard contacted the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for comment.