Korean Air 737 Drops 26000 Feet in 15 Mins Amid Pressurization Issue

N509FZ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Korean Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft made an emergency descent, losing almost 27,000 feet in 15 minutes after experiencing a pressurization problem on 22 June 2024.

Korean Air flight KE189, bound for Taichung, Taiwan, experienced the inflight incident after encountering a pressurization problem en route.

Korean Air KE189 Seoul-Taichung

Flight track of flight KE189 showing Korean Air drops 27,000 feet

The Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, carrying 125 passengers, had departed Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN) at around 16:45 local time.

Approximately 50 minutes into the flight, a warning light indicated a fault in the aircraft’s cabin pressurization system.

The pilots responded to the fault, initiating a rapid descent from cruising altitude FL300 (30,000 feet) to around 8,000 feet.

This maneuver ensured continued oxygen availability for passengers and crew. Flight tracking data shows that Korean Air drops almost 27,000 feet over roughly 15 minutes.

Due to the pressurization issue, the flight crew made the decision to divert back to Incheon Airport, where the aircraft landed safely at approximately 19:40 local time.

The aircraft conducting the KE189 service to Taichung was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, registered HL8352.

Passenger Injuries Reported

Medical personnel were on standby upon landing, and according to reports, 13 passengers were taken to the hospital for evaluation.

These passengers reportedly experienced ear pain and hyperventilation during the rapid descent.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport issued a statement following the inflight incident.

“There was a process of lowering the altitude just before returning to port. At that time, it was determined that there were two people with nosebleeds.”

“One person who complained of discomfort due to low blood pressure, and 15 people who complained of eardrum pain.”

N509FZ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Apart from these reports of minor issues, no serious injuries were reported. Korean Air arranged for a replacement aircraft, and the flight resumed its journey to Taichung on Sunday morning.

The airline has apologized for any inconvenience caused to passengers due to the delay.

This incident which saw Korean Air drops 27,000 feet in a short space of time highlights the procedures inherent with pressurization system.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
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