News broke on Twitter tonight, as United Airlines flight 1463 from Chicago O'Hare to Santa Ana, (Orange County) California had to make an emergency landing. One of the evacuation slides somehow deployed while the plane was cruising along at 38,000 feet.

The Boeing 737-700 had left Chicago at 8:18PM local time. After the slide deployed in the back galley of the aircraft, the plane descended 27,000 feet in twelve minutes, including 16,000 feet in five minutes.

United couldn't get the stranded passengers to John Wayne airport in Santa Ana tonight, due to an airport curfew.


While the cause of the slide deployment is not yet known, the pilots took the plane down to an altitude with breathable air, due to concern about a cabin depressurization. Emergency slides are not supposed to deploy unless the aircraft door is opened while the slide is engaged.

Last November, a jetBlue flight attendant was injured when a slide deployed during a flight between Boston and Fort Myers, Florida. Serious injury can be caused, as the slides are meant to inflate in just a few seconds during an emergency evacuation.

Video of a 737 slide deployment in normal conditions.

This story will continue to be updated as facts come to light. All photos are from Twitter.


UPDATE - United issued a statement on the incident, saying:

"The flight [1463] diverted to Wichita, Kansas, after the emergency evacuation slide accidentally deployed. No one was injured and the flight landed safely. We are flying in another aircraft to resume the flight and get our customers to their final destination as quickly as possible."