Updated 06/30/14 – 11:21 a.m.
CHICAGO (STMW) — A United Airlines flight from Chicago to southern California made an emergency landing in Kansas on Sunday, after the plane’s emergency slide inflated inside the aircraft.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports the rear emergency slide opened in the cabin of United flight 1463 after it left O’Hare International Airport late Sunday night.
After the Boeing 737 reached an altitude of 38,000 feet, the passengers and crew heard a pop, followed by a loud hissing noise. When they looked they saw that the emergency evacuation slide that is normally used outside the plane had actually deployed inside.
The evacuation slides are designed to inflate in six seconds, by using 3,000 pounds per square inch of air pressure, but they’re not designed to deploy midflight inside the aircraft.
It’s not clear what caused the chute to inflate.
“I turned and looked behind me, and that slide that you would use to escape from the plane had gone off and inflated inside the plane while we were flying,” passenger Mike Schroeder said. “It filled up that entire galleyway in the back.”
The galley area normally is used by the flight attendants to prepare drinks and snacks for the passengers. It was instantly rendered impassable due to the inflated slide.
Passengers and crew were equally stunned.
“They just had a panicked look, and they quickly took the carts and ran backwards to the front of the plane, and then we all turned around and they whole back … part of the plane where they sat was full of the chute,” passenger Diane Mondini said.
Passengers could hardly believe what they were seeing, though some shared photos of the incident online.
Schroeder said everyone was so surprised what happened, that passengers remained relatively calm.
The plane was diverted to Wichita, Kansas. Schroeder said, after the flight landed, the pilot told passengers he’d never seen that happen before.
None of the 96 passengers or 5 crew members were injured. Passengers were re-booked for a new flight to California on Monday morning.