A Southwest Airlines pilot aboard a flight from Tampa to Raleigh reportedly told passengers that the plane he was flying was "going down" after it made a rapid descent to normalize cabin pressure.
Grace Stroud, a passenger on Southwest Airlines Flight 3426, told CNN that it first sounded like someone was coming over the PA to talk.
"Then it sounded like shots through the cabin, twice, back to back," Stroud told CNN. "Seconds later, the panicked captain said, 'We're in trouble; we're going down.'"
Another passenger told WTVD that the plane made a nosedive as it neared Raleigh-Durham International Airport after the pilot made the remarks.
A Southwest spokeswoman said that report was inaccurate.
"Our pilot said he was descending to 10,000 feet. The report was not accurate from this customer. We landed safely," spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger told CNN.
It turned out as the plane approached its destination, the pilot noticed a loss in cabin pressure, prompting an earlier than planned descent.
The pilot communicated his plan with the flight attendants and inadvertently activated the PA system, causing confusion and panic among the plane's passengers.
"As the checklist mandates when there is a pressurization issue, our captain did communicate with flight attendants over the PA that he was initiating a descent to a lower altitude," Eichinger said. "The issue resolved itself, which is also not uncommon, and the aircraft landed normally at Raleigh-Durham."