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25-Year-Old United Airlines Boeing 737 Loses External Panel Mid-Flight in Latest Maintenance Issue For Carrier

25-Year-Old United Airlines Boeing 737 Loses External Panel Mid-Flight in Latest Maintenance Issue For Carrier

a plane with a broken engine

A 25-year-old United Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 145 passengers and crew on board, which was operating a flight from San Francisco to Oregon on Friday morning, landed at Rogue Valley International/Medford Airport with an external panel on the underside of the aircraft missing.

It’s not clear when the panel ripped off the aircraft, although the flight landed normally after an otherwise uneventful one-hour flight from California. The pilots and passengers were seemingly unaware that a panel had ripped off the fuselage mid-flight.

United Airlines flight 433 even landed early at Medford Airport, but the plane has now been grounded, and an onward flight to Denver has been cancelled, with the airline telling passengers that it “needed to take the plane out of service to address a technical issue”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for United Airlines told us: “This afternoon, United Flight 433 landed safely at its scheduled destination at Rogue Valley International/Medford Airport.”

“After the aircraft was parked at the gate, it was discovered to be missing an external panel. We’ll conduct a thorough examination of the plane and perform all the needed repairs before it returns to service.”

The spokesperson added: “We’ll also conduct an investigation to better understand how this damage occurred.”

Contrary to reports circulating on social media, the pilots of flight 433 did not declare an emergency, and the plane did not divert to Medford Airport.

This is the latest in a string of embarrassing maintenance mishaps for United Airlines in just over a week.

Last Thursday, a United Airlines Boeing 777 lost a wheel as it departed San Francisco International Airport bound for Osaka, Japan. The aircraft was forced to divert to Los Angeles Airport, and the flight had to be cancelled.

Thankfully, no one on the ground was injured after the wheel landed in an airport parking lot and severely damaged at least two cars.

The incident occurred just hours after the National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report into an incident in which the rudder pedals on a United Boeing 737MAX-8 became stuck as the pilots attempted to land.

Then, just a day later, a United Boeing 737MAX rolled onto the grass at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport as it was landing. After rolling into the grass at the end of the runway, one of the wheel gears collapsed, stranding the aircraft and forcing an evacuation of passengers via mobile airstairs.

On Monday, a United flight from Sydney to San Francisco had to turn back after suffering a ‘maintenance issue’ shortly after takeoff. And on Thursday, a United flight from DallasFort Worth to San Francisco suffered a hydraulic leak shortly before landing.

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