Investigation after Ryanair Boeing 737 Max plunges 2,000ft in 17 seconds during flight to London Stansted

An investigation was launched after a Boeing 737 Max flown by Ryanair plunged at alarming speed during its final approach to London Stansted Airport, it has emerged.

Flight data reveals that on December 4 last year, flight FR1269 dropped more than 2,000ft in a mere 17 seconds.

The shocking incident occurred on the two-hour journey from Klagenfurt, Austria, when the aircraft's descent rate exceeded 8,000ft per minute at low altitude.

Miraculously, none of the passengers or crew aboard the 197-seat aircraft were harmed, according to the I newspaper.

Ryanair acknowledged the occurrence of an "unstable approach" before landing and confirmed its cooperation with the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

Aviation analysts have expressed grave concern, particularly in light of ongoing issues surrounding the 737 Max, including recent whistle-blower allegations and the January incident where a door detached from a jet mid-flight.

The AAIB's incident log describes the aircraft experiencing a "high speed and high nose down pitch attitude" during a go-around procedure.

This manoeuvre involves aborting a landing attempt and climbing to circle the airport before making another approach.

Ireland's Air Accident Investigation Unit, assisting the AAIB, also reported a "level bust" - where an aircraft deviates significantly from its assigned altitude.

While the AAIB confirmed the aircraft landed safely without injuries, they stated the investigation is nearing completion with findings expected this autumn.

The cause of the incident remains unclear, with potential factors ranging from aircraft design issues to pilot error or air traffic control problems.

Notably, flight records show the aircraft did not operate for two days following the incident, raising questions about potential concerns with the relatively new Boeing airliner.

Analysis of flight data indicates the jet made a steady descent to 2,350ft before aborting the landing.

During the subsequent go-around, it abruptly dropped from 4,425ft to 2,300ft in just 17 seconds, while its speed surged from 226mph to 321mph.

The aircraft eventually stabilised and landed safely about 10 minutes later, amid light rain and overcast conditions at Stansted.

An AAIB spokesperson said: “We can’t provide any further detail at the moment as the serious incident is still under investigation.

“We can share that the aircraft landed safely and there were no reported injuries to passengers or crew. The investigation is nearing completion and likely to be published sometime in the autumn.”

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “This was a case of an unstable approach. The crew performed a ‘go around’ and landed normally on the second approach in line with Ryanair procedure.

“Ryanair reported this matter to the AAIB in compliance with our operating manual and we have provided full details to, and are cooperating fully with, this routine AAIB investigation. We can make no further comment until such time as the AAIB have completed their review of this flight.”

An aircraft's approach, the critical final phase of flight spanning roughly 10 miles before touchdown, is governed by strict regulations. These rules dictate permissible speed, altitude, and descent rates.

Any deviation from these parameters renders an approach "unstable", a situation that can compromise safety during the landing phase.

The incident involving the Ryanair Boeing 737 Max at Stansted stands out as particularly concerning. It was one of only six airline incidents in the UK last year that warranted a full investigation by the AAIB.

Among these rare cases prompting AAIB scrutiny, the Ryanair flight appears to be the sole incident involving an unstable approach.

Boeing, London Stansted Airport and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority declined to comment while the investigation is ongoing.