Accidental removal of Engine Cover from Boeing Jet Sparks Investigation

Authorities in the US are looking into an incident where an engine cowling detached from a Boeing 737-800 during take-off and hit a wing flap.

The Southwest Airlines flight safely returned to Denver International airport at approximately 08:15 local time (15:15 GMT) after initially departing for Houston.

An aircraft with 135 passengers and six crew members on board reached an altitude of approximately 10,300 feet (3,140m) before safely landing.

The incident occurs amidst ongoing manufacturing and safety concerns at Boeing.

Southwest Airlines has announced that its maintenance teams will be conducting a thorough review of the Boeing 737-800 aircraft. This comes after an incident where the cowling, which is responsible for covering the engine, detached from the plane. The airline has confirmed its responsibility for the maintenance of such parts.

“We deeply regret any inconvenience caused by the delay, but the safety of our customers and employees is our utmost priority,” stated the company.

According to records from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the plane was manufactured in 2015. The 737-800 is an earlier generation of the 737 compared to the latest Max model.

The aircraft involved in the recent incident was equipped with CFM56 engines, whereas the 737 Max models are equipped with the CFM-Leap engine. Both are produced through a collaboration between General Electric Aerospace and Safran Aircraft Engines.

The FAA reported that the Boeing aircraft safely reached the gate after landing.

Boeing declined to comment when approached by BBC News, redirecting inquiries to Southwest for details regarding the airline’s plane and fleet operations.

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Southwest has announced that they will be accommodating passengers on a different plane, resulting in a delay of approximately three hours for those travelling to Houston.

Boeing has faced intense scrutiny after a harrowing mid-air incident occurred in January. Passengers on a flight from Portland, Oregon, to California narrowly avoided serious injury.

Boeing has agreed to compensate Alaska Air with a substantial amount of $160m (£126m) to cover the losses incurred by the airline due to the emergency.

Regulators have issued a temporary grounding for almost 200 Boeing 737 Max 9 jets. This action was taken after a door plug incident occurred on an Alaska aircraft shortly after take-off.

Boeing has been working tirelessly to restore its reputation following the tragic crashes in 2018 and 2019, which claimed the lives of 346 individuals on a different version of the 737 Max aircraft.

The widely-used 737 Max planes faced a global grounding that lasted over 18 months.

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