Engine Cover Of Boeing Plane Falls Off, Passengers Describe ‘Bomb Jolt’

A video of the incident shows the ripped engine cover flapping in the wind.

New Delhi:

Boeing has landed in trouble again after the engine cover of a Boeing 737-800 plane fell off during takeoff and struck its wing. The aircraft, part of the Southwestern Airlines fleet, was originally headed to Houston with 135 passengers and 6 crew members on board.

The flight rose to about 10,3000 feet (3,140 metres) before being forced to return to Denver International Airport, where it landed safely. It was towed to the gate after landing. No one was injured in the incident.

A video of the incident shows the ripped engine cover flapping in the wind as the crew lands the plane.

Another video shot from a window near the plane’s wing shows the blue cowling peeling off the engine and twisting in the wind. A large portion of it eventually falls off just as the plane hits the runway.

US media spoke to passengers who felt that the engine cover blowing off felt like a ‘bomb jolt’. “People in the exit row across from me started yelling at the flight attendants and showing them the damage. We turned around and made a full-speed landing. The pilots did a great job on the landing,” a passenger told ABC News.

According to radio transmissions with an air traffic controller, the crew promptly declared an emergency as soon as they noticed the flapping cover.

“Let’s go ahead and declare an emergency for Southwest 3695 and we’d like an immediate return. We’ve got a piece of the engine cowling hanging off,” a crew member said.

The incident comes amid manufacturing and safety concerns at Boeing, starting with an emergency on an Alaska Airlines flight on January 5 in which a panel known as a door plug blew off a new Boeing 737 Max 9, delivered to the airline just months earlier.

Southwestern Airlines issued an apology and assured that its maintenance team would review the Boeing 737-800 for any potential hazards.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched an investigation into this incident. The FAA found that the plane had entered service in June 2015. However, the airline refused to share details on when the plane’s engine was last serviced.

Boeing has been trying to repair its reputation for years after crashes in 2018 and 2019 involving a different version of the 737 Max plane killed 346 people. Its popular 737 Max planes were subsequently grounded globally for more than 18 months. But the recent crashes have once again put the spotlight on the company’s planes.

The Alaska Airlines blowout was just the start of the deluge of bad press Boeing has endured this year. The National Transportation Safety Board has reported that there were 29 other instances of malfunctions and accidents involving Boeing planes in 2024 alone.

Last month, a United Airlines Boeing jet was evacuated in Houston after veering off the runway, and 50 people were bloodied and injured on a New Zealand-bound Boeing jet that plummeted into a frightening nosedive.

Even President Biden hasn’t been able to resist taking shots at the embattled company, quipping at a campaign event last week, “I don’t sit by the door” on Air Force One.