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Southwest Airlines Passenger Have Hair-Raising Flight as Engine Cover is Torn Off Boeing 737-800

Southwest Airlines Passenger Have Hair-Raising Flight as Engine Cover is Torn Off Boeing 737-800

a plane on the wing of an airplane

Passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Houston had a pretty hair-raising experience on Sunday morning when the engine cowling (cover) on the right-hand engine was torn off, prompting an emergency diversion back to Denver.

Southwest Airlines flight WN-3695 took off at around 7:48 am on Sunday and climbed to around 10,000 feet before the pilots diverted straight back to Denver International Airport, where the eight-year-old Boeing 737-800 landed safely.

Dramatic video taken by stunned passengers inside the plane showed the engine cowling getting ripped apart and being torn off the plane as the aircraft touched down at Denver.

Thankfully, there were no reports of any injuries and the plane was towed to the gate where the passengers were able to deplane as normal.

Unsurprisingly, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has confirmed that it will investigate.

The engine cowling is secured shut using a clip so that it can be easily opened by engineers for routine inspections and maintenance. Although the cause of Sunday’s accident has not been confirmed, engine cowling separations are a rare but not unheard of issue that affects both Boeing 737s and Airbus A320 series aircraft.

The cause is normally because an engineer has failed to secure the clip properly after opening the cover for routine maintenance.

In fact, cowling separations became such a problem on Airbus A320 series aircraft that the plane manufacturer was forced to redesign the cowling to make it more obvious that the cover was not secured shut.

Of course, pilots are required to perform a ‘walk around’ of the plane before departure to specifically look for abnormalities, but an unsecured cowling is not always easy to spot.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Southwest said of Sunday’s incident: “Southwest Flight 3695 returned to Denver International Airport this morning and landed safely after experiencing a mechanical issue.”

“We’re working now to get customers on their way to Houston on another aircraft. Our Maintenance teams are reviewing the aircraft.”

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