Flight: 10,000 Foot Drop Causes Headaches, Ear Problems On United Express

A flight took a 10,000-foot drop while in mid-air, causing several passengers on the plane to experience headaches and/or ear problems. According to NBC News, the United Express flight was traveling from Charlotte to Illinois when it made a 10,000 foot vertical drop, apparently due to some kind of “pressurization issue.” The plane was diverted to Indianapolis International Airport because several passengers complained of discomfort, and landed safely around 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

“According to Jeff Dutton, Communications Manager at Indianapolis Airport Authority, passengers were checked out once the flight landed but no one was taken to a hospital,” reports NBC News. Meanwhile, airline spokesman Jarek Beem said that such mid-air activity is “standard procedure” when a pressure issue arises. Beem did not elaborate on what may have caused the issue.

The flight’s 10,000 foot drop has caused the FAA to investigate. According to dbTechno, the FAA is working to find out what caused the pressurization issue on board the Embraer E145 (an Embraer ERJ-170 is pictured above). The plane, which holds about 50 people when full, was being inspected by maintenance technicians after the airline accommodated passengers. United has not released any further updates.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, this isn’t the only United Express flight to have a problem. In fact, a flight in Milwaukee was forced to turn back to the airport after experiencing “engine trouble.”

“On July 28, another United Express flight, SkyWest Flight 5393, had to return to Milwaukee after departing for Chicago due to engine trouble. Photos taken after the plane landed show a missing panel on one of the engines. As with the United Express flight today, no one was injured.”

Cabin pressure stability is necessary on a plane. The loss of cabin pressure can cause serious issues as it deprives passengers of oxygen. According to Air & Space Smithsonian, cabin pressure is controlled by a plane’s engines.

“Air is pressurized by the engines. Turbofan engines compress intake air with a series of vaned rotors right behind the fan. At each stage of compression, the air gets hotter, and at the point where the heat and pressure are highest, some air is diverted. Some of the hot, high-pressure air, called bleed air, is sent to de-ice wings and other surfaces, some goes to systems operated by air pressure, and some starts its journey to the cabin.”

The flight’s 10,000 foot drop may sound frightening to some, but this sort of thing is just part of how planes work.

[Photo by John Davies – CYOW Airport Watch via Wikimedia Commons]