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Video: Coast Guard releases video showing rescue of downed Boeing 737 pilots

The Coast Guard and Honolulu Fire Department rescued two people from downed Boeing 737 plane 2-miles south of Kalaeloa, Oahu, July 2, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard/released)
July 02, 2021

The U.S. Coast Guard released video of emergency responders rescuing the two pilots of a Boeing 737 cargo plane that crash-landed in the ocean near Oahu, Hawaii at around 1:40 a.m. local time Friday morning.

The Coast Guard deployed an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, an HC-130 Hercules airplane, a 45-foot Response-Boat-Medium, as well as Cutter Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126). Honolulu Fire Department also deployed a rescue boat.

One pilot was recovered from the water by the Dolphin helicopter crew, and the other pilot was rescued by the Honolulu Fire Department. Both pilots were taken to The Queen’s Medical Center in Oahu and were reported in stable condition.

The FAA identified the plane as Transair Flight 810.

“The pilots had reported engine trouble and were attempting to return to Honolulu when they were forced to land the aircraft in the water,” the FAA said in a statement reported by CNBC. “According to preliminary information, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued both crew members. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.”

The emergency responders had received notification from Honolulu Air Traffic Control about the downed plane.

According to air traffic control audio obtained by The Washington Post via LiveATC.net, one of the pilots told air traffic controllers shortly after takeoff, “Our situation: We’ve lost number 1 engine and we’re coming straight to the airport. … We’re going to need the fire department. There’s a chance we’re going to lose the other engine, too. It’s running very hot.”

The second pilot later said the plane was unable to climb out of low altitude. The air traffic controller gave them the clear to land on any runway at the Honolulu airport, but the pilots said they may not make it.

“Can you let the Coast Guard know?” one pilot said. “We cannot maintain altitude.”

According to flight data on aircraft tracking websites Radar Box and Flight Radar, the plane was in flight for a little more than 10 minutes before going down near Ewa Beach, across the bay from Honolulu. The data shows the plane only reached a high altitude of 2,125 feet.

Additionally, flight data for a U.S. Coast Guard 6544, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, showed the aircraft circling over the same last reported area of the Boeing 737.

The flight data for the Transair flight listed the aircraft as a Boeing 737-275C, which is not the same as the 737 MAX variant that has been at the center of problems for Boeing in recent years.

Honolulu Star Advertiser reported the debris field at the crash-landing site spanned more than a mile wide.

At 1:48 p.m. local time, approximately 12 hours after the crash, the Coast Guard said it was holding a safety zone around the salvage operation and was working with partners on the environmental response.