Videos Show Southwest Boeing 737's Engine Cover Ripping Apart Mid-Takeoff

By Jason Hall

April 7, 2024

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The engine cover of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 plane ripped apart during takeoff at Denver International Airport Sunday (April 7) morning, ABC News' Sam Sweeney reported.

"Scary moments for passengers on a Southwest flight from Denver to Houston when the engine cover ripped off during flight, forcing the plane to return to Denver Sunday morning," Sweeney wrote on his X account, along with a video showing closeup footage of the incident.

The plane was traveling to Houston when its "engine cowling fell off during takeoff and struck the wing flap," the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed in a statement obtained by ABC News.

The flight reportedly "landed safely after experiencing a mechanical issue" and customers were rebooked on other flights as maintenance teams observed the damages to the aircraft, Southwest Airlines said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

Footage shared by passengers on the plane showed what seemed to be part of the plane hanging off and flapping in the wind.

"It all blew away," one person was heard saying in a clip shared by passenger Lisa C, who told ABC News that the cowling "peeled off within the first 10 minutes" of the flight.

"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 said.

The incident is the latest in a string of issues to Boeing planes dating back to March 4, when an aircraft made an emergency landing in Texas after flames exploded one of its jet engines minutes into its flight. On March 7, a United Airlines Boeing 777-20 flight from San Francisco to Japan was diverted to Los Angeles after one of its landing gears fell off after takeoff.

United Flight 821, which departed from San Francisco and en route to Mexico City, was diverted to Los Angeles the following day "due to an issue with the aircraft's hydraulic system." A United Airlines flight also went off the runway at George Bush International Airport as it was landing, leading to an evacuation, that same day.

Boeing said it was adding weekly compliance checks to every 737 work area, as well as additional equipment audits, in an effort to limit the recent issues last month.

“Our teams are working to simplify and streamline our processes and address the panel’s recommendations,” the memo obtained by the New York Post stated.

“We will not hesitate in stopping a production line or keeping an airplane in position.”

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