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SkyWest flight 5622 makes emergency landing in Buffalo, New York after passengers mysteriously lose consciousness mid-flight

Published 23/04/2015

Emergency vehicles surround the jet after its emergency landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (AP)
Emergency vehicles surround the jet after its emergency landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (AP)

A US plane carrying 75 passengers was forced to rapidly descend and make an emergency landing on Wednesday after three passengers lost consciousness mid-flight.

The SkyWest airlines flight 5622 travelling from Chicago to Connecticut was diverted to Buffalo Niagara Airport in New York on Wednesday in response to passengers being taken ill.

The plane rapidly dropped from an altitude of 37,000 feet to 10,000 on its approach to Buffalo, descending as fast as 7,000 ft per minute, according to Fox News.

The airline, operating as United Express, initially said only one person had fallen unconscious before updating this figure to three.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the plane may have experienced a "pressurisation problem” in an initial statement. SkyWest spokeswoman Marissa Snow told The Independent that an initial investigation did not find any indication that the plane had experienced a drop in pressure.

"An examination by maintenance personal and local authorities found there was no indication of a pressurisation problem or any other issues with the airplane," she said.

"The crew thought it [passengers being taken ill] may have been a pressurisation issue which is why they initiated the rapid descent.” Ms Snow said this may be why the initial FAA statement referenced issues with the cabin pressure.

A second statement released by the FAA on Wednesday afternoon omitted any reference to a "pressurisation problem."

SkyWest said on Twitter that the plane landed safely in Buffalo after a passenger lost consciousness, adding: “No problem with door, other passengers being accommodated".

Dave Barkely, a passenger who was seated close to the front of the cabin, told The LA Times he heard a flight attendant say a woman had vomited. A second woman lost consciousness shortly after.

The pilot then announced the plane was going to descend "really quick" and make an emergency landing, according to Mr Barkley.

“They said there was a pressure problem with the plane," he said. "There was no door flying open or anything like that. It was something very gradual.”

Ms Snow said she had not been made aware of a passenger being sick during the flight. "A number complained of nausea on the ground and it’s unclear whether that was form the rapid descent," she added.

When asked why the airline initially only reported one passenger falling ill, she replied: “That was the information that we had at the time.”

Source: Independent

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