The US National Transportation Safety Board is investigating why three passengers passed out on a SkyWest flight last week, leading the pilot to make an emergency landing.
Initial concerns focused on a loss of pressurisation, but that explanation is now in doubt.
SkyWest Airlines Flight 5622 – operating as United Express and using an Embraer E170 jet aircraft – diverted to Buffalo, New York. The passengers were evaluated after the plane landed, and the flight proceeded to its intended destination: Hartford, Connecticut.
The airline later issued a media statement saying the passengers who reported a loss of consciousness had not been hospitalised.
SkyWest Airlines still investigating, but has found no indications of a pressurisation problem on the plane.
CNN in the US quoted a passenger who said a flight attendant made an appeal on the public address system for someone who was medically trained to help a sick passenger.
Minutes later, the passenger told CNN, the attendant announced a pressurisation problem and told passengers to prepare for an emergency landing.
“You’re going to feel dizzy and woozy and lightheaded, and you’re not going to be able to breathe,” the passenger recalled the flight attendant saying.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday initially reported a pressurisation problem but later issued a statement making no reference to any pressurisation issue.
CNN quoted Marissa Snow, spokeswoman for SkyWest, saying three passengers on the flight reported having lost consciousness.
The flight was carrying 84 people, including nine crew.
The mystery continues. Embraer E170s are reliable aircraft used widely around the world. The Embraer E-Jet family is a series of narrow-body medium-range twin-engine jet airliners produced by Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer.
Virgin Australia operates 18 Embraer aircraft, but it has the E190 model rather than the E170. The E190 is a larger stretch of the E170, fitted with a newer, bigger wing, larger horizontal stabiliser and a new engine.
Written by Peter Needham