A packed Easyjet holiday flight from Milan to Portugal had to return to the airport minutes after take-off after a cover to one of the plane's engines fell off.
The Airbus A320 was carrying 174 passengers, who looked on in horror as parts of the plane dropped off.
The Daily Mail reports that the plane had reached a take-off speed of more than 200mph when the incident occurred on Monday night at Milan's Malpensa Airport.
According to the Evening Standard, holidaymaker Filippo Guazzini, from Pisa, who was on the flight with his girlfriend, said: "It fell away right in front of my eyes and I started screaming: 'A piece of the wing has gone flying'. The cabin crew came and had a look and then one went to tell the captain. He came over the PA system a few minutes later and said there had been a problem and we were turning back.
"We were circling for twenty minutes before we landed again and the crew were trying to keep everybody calm but it was an experience I don't want to go through again."
The Aviation Herald explained: "An Easyjet Airbus A320-200, registration G-EZTC performing flight U2-2715 from Milan Malpensa (Italy) to Lisbon (Portugal) with 174 people on board, was in the initial climb out of Malpensa's runway 35R when the left hand engine's doors opened and were subsequently torn off the engine.
Other reports, like Filippo's, suggest that the plane actually circled for 20 minutes before it landed back at the airport.
Fire engines were on standby but passengers were able to disembark using the stairs rather than the emergency chutes.
The airport was closed for 20 minutes during the incident, and two incoming flights were diverted.
Passengers were given food and drink vouchers while waiting for a replacement plane to be flown in.
In a statement given to Aol Travel, the airline said: "Easyjet can confirm that flight EZY2715 from Milan Malpensa Airport to Lisbon on 12 August returned from airborne shortly after take-off. This was due to the loss of parts of the fan cowl (a protective cover for the engine) of the left hand engine during the take-off and subsequent return to Milan Malpensa Airport.
"The aircraft landed routinely and safely using both engines. All passengers disembarked and Easyjet provided an alternative aircraft so they were able to continue their journey to Lisbon later that evening.
"The safety of its passengers and crew is Easyjet's highest priority. We have apologised to passengers for any inconvenience they may have experienced due to the delay. Easyjet will be compensating the affected passengers for the delay in line with the EU261 regulations.
"Easyjet launched an immediate investigation and will work alongside the relevant safety authorities including the Italian safety authority, the ANSV, in accordance with our procedures.
"This is the first incident of its type Easyjet has experienced."
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