American Airlines ERJ-145 Flight Experiences Steep Descent


American Airlines Flight 5916 from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Gainesville, Florida, reportedly descended rapidly from 30,000 feet to a more pressure-friendly altitude. Reports vary as to how fast the descent was, but it certainly got the attention of the 50 passengers on board the Embraer ERJ-145.

In an official statement, American Airlines wrote, “American Eagle Flight 5916, operated by Piedmont Airlines, from Charlotte (CLT) to Gainesville, Florida, (GNV) landed safely in GNV on Thursday, August 10. While enroute, the crew received an indication of a possible pressurization issue and immediately and safely descended to a lower altitude. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience and thank our team for their professionalism.” Based on data from FlightAware, the descent began at about 40 minutes into the roughly two-hour, 30-minute flight, which also appeared to circumvent a line of convective activity. The crew continued to the destination airport and landed uneventfully with no injuries to anyone on board.

According to a story that first appeared on, one passenger reported on X, formerly known as Twitter, that tensions were high during the descent. Harrison Hove wrote, “I’ve flown a lot. This was scary. Kudos to our amazing flight crew—cabin staff and pilots … The photos cannot capture the burning smell, loud bang or ear pops.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Okay that’s not American Airlines – that’s piedmont airlines. Different training departments and different maintenance departments. Not the same.

    • Piedmont is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines and its people are trained by the American Airlines DFW Flight Academy and the American Airlines Flight Training Center in Charlotte (the latter was supposed to move to DFW, but I can’t find if it ever did.) Piedmont operates under American Airlines flight codes and, obviously from the press statement by American, they are treated as American Airlines flights.

      • Piedmont operates under their own operating certificate, they have their own pilots, flight attendants, dispatchers and mechanics. The fact that they train on simulators located at American’s Flight Academy doesn’t mean they are trained by American’s pilots or Sim Instructors. From a marketing standpoint American sells flights on all their Eagle carriers as if you were booking a flight on mainline AA. From an operational, part 121, standpoint they are all separate carriers.

  2. “Reports vary as to how fast the descent was”
    So … how fast were any of the reports? Commercial jets descend routinely at thousands of feet per minute.

    • I had to google it. Looks like they went from about 30K to about 15K in about three minutes. So I’d call that 5000 feet per minute. I’ve seen 3000fpm on normal commercial flights, so this isn’t that much steeper than normal. The big difference is that without normal control of cabin pressurization, the passengers probably felt it a whole lot more in their ears.

  3. Sounds to me like a classic, well executed, per the checklist, emergency descent on a check ride with a real Fed. They pass with flying colors. In real life, while they did the correct thing, descending from only 30,000 feet with a boat load of passengers, they possibly could have done just as well to make it slightly less frightening for the passengers. Kudos to them anyway.

  4. Sounds like pilots doing just what they have been trained to do, professionally and efficiently. Hopefully they communicated to the passengers what was happening, buy maybe they were just a bit too busy.