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Delta Flight Makes Steep Dive After Losing Cabin Pressure: Report

Newsweek logo Newsweek 3/29/2022 Aila Slisco
Delta Airlines Flight 339, operated by a Boeing 757, was forced to divert to Denver for an emergency landing after losing cabin pressure and rapidly descending to an altitude of 10,000 on Monday. A Delta 757 airliner is pictured approaching Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia on February 24, 2021. © DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Delta Airlines Flight 339, operated by a Boeing 757, was forced to divert to Denver for an emergency landing after losing cabin pressure and rapidly descending to an altitude of 10,000 on Monday. A Delta 757 airliner is pictured approaching Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia on February 24, 2021.

A Delta flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Denver after rapidly descending due to a loss of cabin pressure, according to WUSA.

Flight 339 departed from Atlanta and had been set to make a scheduled landing in Seattle on Monday night before being diverted to the Mile High City due to the in-flight emergency. The plane, a Boeing 757, was forced to dive to a safe altitude of 10,000 feet, causing oxygen masks to drop in the cabin to provide passengers with breathable air during the descent, WUSA reported. An emergency code was sent to air traffic controllers after the plane descended.

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The plane fell at a rate of around 4,600 feet per minute, according to FlightAware, which a member of an unaffiliated Delta Facebook group noted was about "52 mph towards the ground." Retired pilot John Cox, a former US Airways captain, wrote that "airliners can descend over 8,000 feet per minute if needed" during an emergency, in a September 2020 USA Today column.

Monday's Delta flight, which included 185 passengers and seven crew members, landed safely and parked routinely at a Denver International Airport terminal gate shortly after 7 p.m. Although no injuries were reported, two or three of the passengers were treated for symptoms including "lightheadedness and shortness of breath," according to Denver Fox affiliate KDVR.

"Safety is always top of mind for Delta people as we serve our customers," Delta spokesperson Morgan Durrant said in a statement to Newsweek. "We apologize to our customers for the delay in their travels this evening and our teams are working to get them to their final destinations as quickly as possible."

Monday's emergency descent came one week after a Boeing 737-800 airliner operated by China Eastern Airlines dove uncontrollably at a rate of 31,000 feet per minute before crashing in a mountainous area of southern China, killing all 132 people on board.

The final seconds of the China Eastern flight were captured in a viral video that showed the plane making an almost entirely vertical plunge just before slamming into the ground. Investigators have recovered the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder and are looking into the cause of the crash, a process that could take months.

Boeing 737 MAX airliners were grounded globally for nearly two years due to a faulty computer flight control system that resulted in two crashes that killed a combined 346 people. The system is unique to MAX series 737s and was not installed on board the 737-800 that crashed last week or the 757 that was forced to make an emergency landing on Monday.

Newsweek reached out to Denver International Airport for comment.

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