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Japan Airlines Plane Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Cover is Ripped Off During Takeoff

Japan Airlines Plane Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Cover is Ripped Off During Takeoff

The pilots of a Japan Airlines operated Boeing 777 were forced to make an emergency landing on Thursday after the left-hand engine suffered an uncontained failure when part of the engine ripped off during takeoff and was sucked into the engine, damaging it’s fan blades.

Onboard Japan Airlines flight JL-904 from Okinawa to Tokyo Haneda were 178 passengers and 11 crew members. No injuries were reported but Japan’s Ministry of Transport is treating the accident as a serious incident and has opened an investigation.

Investigators from Japan’s version of the Transport Safety Board have been despatched to Okinawa airport where the plane returned around 35 minutes after departure. Japan Airlines has not publicly commented on the accident.

The access doors to the left hand engine appear to have failed and ripped off as the 23-year-old plane was taking off. Passengers reported hearing a loud bang and lots of noise after the engine failure. The plane landed without further incident.

This is, however, far from the first time that the engine cover, or cowling as it is officially known, has ‘failed’ inflight.

In 2013, a British Airways operated Airbus A319 aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing after the engine cowlings on both engines were ripped clean off during takeoff. Part of the cowling was sucked into one of the engines resulting in a fire that prompted an evacuation onto the runway.

Investigators concluded that aircraft engineers had forgotten to latch close the cowling covers after routine maintenance.

Just a year before this accident, aircraft manufacturer Airbus said it was still receiving reports about ‘cowl door loss’ events – all of which were caused by the latches not being locked properly.

In 2017, the engine cowling on a China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 failed and was ingested into the engine although luckily there were no reported injuries. Sadly, in a 2018 accident involving a Southwest Airlines operated Boeing 737 a passenger died when part of the cowling was ripped away from the engine and punctured a hole in a window.

Jennifer Riordan was partially sucked out of the aircraft and other passengers had to drag her back into the cabin. Despite efforts to resuscitate her, she sadly died from her injuries.

In that accident, the cowling was damaged by a defective fan blade that had broken away from the engine. Boeing was, however, ordered to change the design of some engine cowlings to prevent a similar freak accident.

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