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Screams as jet dives 500 metres to avoid skydiving plane

July 5, 2013 Aviation, Headline News 4 Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Passengers screamed as a passenger jet plunged in a horrifying dive to avoid hitting a skydiving plane, going into its own form of skydive in the process. Every person aboard was screaming, passengers recounted.

The plane involved was an Airbus A319 and the account of its sudden plunge was delivered in a report issued by the US Federal Avation Administration (FAA).

The Spirit Airlines flight took off from Detroit with 126 passengers and a crew of five on a flight to Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas. It hadn’t been airborne long when controllers reported a skydiving HH250x250-1jump plane was in the sky nearby.

Moments later, the Spirit pilot received an automated warning from the plane’s Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) requiring him to put the plane into an immediate 1600-foot (488-metre) descent.

In some cases a robot voice rings out in the cockpit: “Descend! Descend!” It depends on the TCAS model fitted.

A response to TCAS must be instantaneous, and that’s how the pilot reacted.

ABC News in the US quoted passengers describing the dive as “horrifying” and saying they thought the plane was going down (which it was, but fortunately not to ground level).

One passenger said that “people were screaming and crying … we thought that was it. Every person on that plane was screaming.”

Drinks spilled, overhead luggage lockers sprang open, a drinks cart and its contents flipped and flight attendants hit their heads.

Though the pilot had no time to warn passengers, he came on the public address system afterwards and explained coolly that there had been a “flight control issue”.

Passengers were in no doubt of that.

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. George says:

    Hi Peter
    How can this be termed Headline News Peter?
    It has very little value in your online publication.
    Maybe only as a Point of Interest .

  2. Brian says:

    Not to sure about the credibility of this story:

    First, I am almost certain A319 aircraft do not seat 126 passengers.

    Drink carts and cabin service usually do not start until at least F250, well after take-off and I cannot see a skydiving aircraft at that altitude – jumpers would have to be on oxygen etc.

    TCAS is Traffic Collision Avoidance System, not Terminal Collision Avoidance System; not many Terminals at altitude!

    And lastly, I cannot imagine all the male passengers sitting there crying, regardless of what purportedly happened.

  3. Ken says:

    Bet if you had been on board the aircraft George you may have had a different opinion.
    Good to be told of such incidents.

  4. Peter says:

    Thanks for everyone’s input on this. You are right Brian about the word Terminal not being in TCAS. It stands for Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System. That was my mistake and it has now been fixed. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Spirit Airlines A319s are configured with 145 seats, according to SeatGuru.com

    The passenger told ABC News that some people were crying and everyone was screaming, though she probably didn’t check whether it really was everyone. It may have just sounded that way!

    I must admit I’m glad I was not on the flight.

    Peter Needham

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