A terrifying incident is coming to light which occurred in December when UA flight 1722, a Boeing 777-200 widebody, departed Maui and was bound for San Francisco. But something happened almost immediately after takeoff, which we can confirm based on our data analysis from FlightRadar24 Pro (image below). This problem occurred during the same severe weather as the now infamous Hawaiian Airlines Flight 35, which encountered extreme turbulence on approach to Honolulu that resulted in dozens of injuries to passengers and crew.
A strong Hawaii winter storm was in effect.
Both of these events occurred during a very stormy and unusually windy period here in Hawaii. While strong winter storms are nothing new to Hawaii, the severity of the gusts was exceptional. This would obviously lead to questions regarding the cause of this UAL incident and whether it was somehow also a storm-related event.
UAL Maui to SFO dropped precipitously after takeoff.
The flight departed normally and climbed to 2,200 feet, as can be seen in the altitude graph from FlightRadar24 Pro above. But what happened after that was anything but ordinary. Instead of continuing its climb as it traveled just northwest of the island, the plane suddenly plunged from an altitude of about 2,200 feet down to within 750 feet of the Pacific Ocean below, as can also be seen in the graph.
The incident was not previously reported but was noted by the website The Air Current, then confirmed by us directly via FlightRadar and other sources. The weather, as we indicated, continued to be very stormy statewide on the day and at the time of the Boeing 777 takeoff. According to The Air Current, the drop descent rate was severe.
It is interesting, and either coincidental or not, that both this United Airlines flight and the prior day’s Hawaiian Airlines flight 35 suffered sudden drops in altitude.
The drop was brief and severe and produced enormous gravity forces on the aircraft, passengers, and crew.
The intensity was so extreme, both in the rapid descent and the ascent that followed, that it was reported to have produced 2.7 times the force of gravity. It appears that the entire event lasted less than one minute. Thereafter, the plane continued without further issue to San Francisco.
UAL is reported to have confirmed the incident, saying it “Coordinated with the FAA and ALPA on an investigation that ultimately resulted in the pilots receiving additional training. Safety remains our highest priority… [Pilots] fully cooperated with the investigation and their training program is ongoing.”
No injuries have been reported on United 1722. Here’s the most obvious reason.
During the statewide storm, Hawaii experienced extraordinary wind gusts. NTSB previously spoke to the weather, saying, “There was an occluded frontal system with an associated upper-level trough moving towards the Hawaiian Islands.”
Everyone was in their seats with seatbelts on. Without a doubt, at just 2,200 feet into the takeoff climb, all passengers and crew would have still been buckled in and safe. That is, obviously, a significant reason for the event not resulting in the kinds of injuries associated with the previous day’s Hawaiian Airlines flight. In that sense, the timing was much better than had it occurred with passengers and crew moving about the cabin.
If you were on this flight, we’d love to hear from you. Mahalo.