Engine part falls off Boeing plane as Southwest Airlines flight takes off

Part of an engine covering has fallen off a Boeing airplane in the US during takeoff and struck the wing flap.

Southwest flight 3695 was leaving Denver International Airport on Sunday morning at 8.15am when the engine’s cowling detached and hit the wing, according to Reuters.

A video posted to social media, the engine cowling can be seen flapping in the wind before it detaches completely and bangs against the aircraft’s wing.

The Houston-bound flight, carrying 135 passengers, returned to the Colorado airport without incident. No injuries were reported.

Southwest said the plane “landed safely after experiencing a mechanical issue,” according to ABC News.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Sunday that it will investigate the incident on the Boeing 737-800, the latest involving the aircraft manufacturer.

A passenger, who gave the name Lisa C, told ABC News said the cowling detached approximately 10 minutes after boarding was completed.

"We all felt kind of a bump, a jolt, and I looked out the window because I love window seats, and there it was," she told the outlet.

Another passenger, Cooper Glass, told ABC News that the incident was "frightening," but that the pilot did an excellent job returning to the airport.

Southwest Airlines said its maintenance teams were examining the aircraft. The affected passengers were flown on another flight to Houston about three hours behind their scheduled arrival time.

The incident is the latest in a string of issues to plague Boeing.

The engine cover on a Southwest-operated Boeing aircraft detaches as it leaves Denver International Airport on 7 April, 2024 (@SweeneyABC/X/Twitter)
The engine cover on a Southwest-operated Boeing aircraft detaches as it leaves Denver International Airport on 7 April, 2024 (@SweeneyABC/X/Twitter)

On 5 January, a door plug panel on a new Alaska Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft tore off while it was cruising at 16,000 feet.

The FAA subsequently grounded 171 of the company's MAX 9 aircrafts for review. It has also prohibited the company from increasing production of the MAX series aircraft, and has ordered it to develop a comprehensive plan to address "systemic quality-control issues".

The Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into the Alaska Airlines incident. The investigation will centre on whether Boeing complied with a 2021 settlement it agreed to after a pair of deadly crashes that were attributed to faults in its 737 MAX Maneuvering Characterists Augmentation System, Forbes reports.