Unable to determine what made passengers sick aboard a SkyWest flight from Chicago to Hartford, Connecticut, that made an emergency landing on Wednesday, the airline is returning the aircraft to service.
Police and fire officials, along with SkyWest maintenance crews, checked over the plane and could find nothing wrong after 14 people reported feeling ill and three lost consciousness, according to the airline.
"It's done a complete top-to-bottom evaluation to make sure there is no kind of a cabin pressure issue. Everything's coming back negative, so at the moment the airline is stumped," said NBC News reporter Tom Costello.
The first passenger lost consciousness late Wednesday morning about an hour into the flight from O'Hare to Bradley International Airport.
The pilot, initially concerned there may have been a pressurization problem, descended to 10,000 feet where air pressure outside is bearable, before making an emergency landing in Buffalo, New York.
"The captain had said all the symptoms led him to believe it was a lack of cabin pressure, so he dropped us down real quick," said Dave Barkley, passenger from South Bend, Indiana, after he finally reached Bradley about seven hours late.
Barkley said the turbulence on the approach to Buffalo was rougher than the descent of 27,000 feet over seven minutes.
"That descent was rapid, certainly, and probably you wouldn't want to do that too often. You scare people, especially after some of the things that have happened," said former Pan American pilot Ed Spellacy. "But no, I don't think that's an excessive rate of descent."
He said a typical emergency descent of that distance would take just two minutes.
Passengers reported feeling better on the ground in Buffalo. One person aboard the aircraft said some 30 passengers received oxygen after landing at the airport. According to SkyWest officials, no passengers went to the hospital.
Photo Credit: NBC Newschannel