A Cayman Airways passenger plane descended more than 20,000 feet during a flight from Miami last week following a problem with its cabin pressure system.
Flight KX107 from Miami to Grand Cayman on Wednesday night ‘experienced an anomaly with the primary cabin pressure control system’, according to a statement from the airline in response to questions from the Caymanian Compass.
When asked to verify that the plane went from 35,000 feet to 10,000 feet and to explain how long it had flown at the lower altitude, the airline’s spokesperson responded: ‘Confirm’, adding that it was a ‘normal descent’.
However, passenger Derek Beven, described the flight as anything but normal, saying it was a terrifying experience.
The airline did not respond to how long the plane flew at 10,000 feet, but Mr. Bevan said the plane started to descend at 8.15pm and remained low for 45 minutes until it landed in Cayman.
‘The captain told the crew to strap in. He said there was a pressure problem… It felt like the plane was nose-diving. It was terrifying,’ Mr. Bevan said.
He added: ‘It seemed the plane was trying to climb up and then it would dive again. I’m not squeamish, but this was horrific. When you feel the plane going down, and no-one tells you anything, it’s quite terrifying.
‘There was definitely something wrong with that aircraft, but fair play to the captain, he got us all home.’
Another passenger on Flight KX107, Katrina Jurn, described how passengers were so scared, some were texting goodbye messages to their loved ones.
‘There was no danger of crashing, but the passengers did not know that,’ she said.
Ms Jurn, who was travelling with her mother, added that after the captain announced that there was a problem and told passengers to fasten their seat belts, ‘the plane started going down really quickly’.
Information after he got off the aircraft was also not forthcoming, said Mr. Bevan, who had been returning to Cayman following heart surgery and a nine-day stay in a Miami hospital. Concerned that the drop in cabin pressure may have caused medical problems for him, he rang Cayman Airways several times for more information, but no-one called him back.
‘I called them seven times, but I’ve heard nothing,’ he said the day after the 3 June flight.
In its statement, the airline said: ‘At no time was the aircraft in danger. However, the captain elected to descend to a lower altitude as a precautionary measure for the remainder of the flight.
‘The aircraft landed uneventfully in Grand Cayman. The anomaly was subsequently rectified and the aircraft returned to service.’
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands said no report had been filed of the incident with the authority.
The incident with the cabin pressure occurred on the same day that a cargo plane operated by IFL for Cayman Airways was forced to make an emergency landing at the Owen Roberts International Airport.
The Convair cargo plane, which was heading to Grand Cayman from Florida, landed safely after the plane’s crew reported possible problems with the craft’s landing gear.