Southwest B737 makes emergency landing after engine cover rips off during flight

Sam Sweeney / X

A Southwest Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing after one of the Boeing 737-800 aircraft’s engine covers detached during takeoff.

Flight SW 3695 was headed to William P Hobby Airport (HOU) in Houston from Denver International Airport (DEN) on April 7, 2024 when the incident took place. The flight departed at 07:39 local time.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an engine cowling fell off and struck the wing flap during takeoff. The flight rose to about 3,140 meters (10,300 feet), before returning safely back to Denver Airport. 

Footage taken by passengers onboard and posted on X (formerly Twitter) showed what appeared to be part of the plane hanging off and flapping in the breeze, before eventually ripping off the aircraft.

The aircraft, carrying 135 passengers and five crew members, was then towed back to the gate.

In a statement sent to US media, Southwest said a crew member reported that the engine cowling fell off during takeoff and struck the wing flap. 

“Southwest Airlines Flight 3695 returned safely to Denver International airport around 08:15  local time on Sunday, April 7, 2024,” the airline said, adding that the FAA will investigate the incident. 

The airline also said that passengers were rebooked on other flights, and maintenance teams are currently inspecting the aircraft.

“We apologize for the inconvenience of their delay, but place our highest priority on ultimate safety for our customers and employees,” the statement continued.

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