Engine cover flies from Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 during takeoff

FAA investigation set to examine failure after aircraft fire in Texas last week

The engine cover on a Boeing 737-800 used by Southwest Airlines detached during takeoff from Denver on Sunday, prompting an investigation by aviation regulators.

The engine cowling struck the wing flap as the aircraft left the runway just before 8am local time, in an incident filmed by a passenger and shared on social media. The flight circled and returned to the airport about 25 minutes later. Passengers were unharmed and continued their journeys on a different aircraft about three hours later.

The incident is now under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In a statement, Southwest Airlines said: "We apologize for the inconvenience of their delay, but place our highest priority on ultimate safety for our customers and employees. Our maintenance teams are reviewing the aircraft."

FAA records show the aircraft was manufactured in 2015.

According to Sky News, there have been a number of engine issues on 737-800s belonging to the same airline.

For example, Associated Press reported that officials were investigating an engine fire that forced a Southwest Airlines aircraft to abandon takeoff at Lubbock, Texas, on April 4.

Reuters also pointed out that the FAA might impose engine housing inspections and component replacements on Boeing 737 NG aircraft following a 2018 Southwest Airlines incident.

The Register asked Southwest Airlines for further comment. Boeing has not so far provided comment on the Denver issue.

The flagship US aerospace manufacturer has been the focus of quality concerns in recent years.

Last month, Boeing said CEO Dave Calhoun would step down from his role at the end of this year. The manufacturer did not elaborate on the reason for his departure, nor respond to questions.

A Southwest Airlines passenger jet takes off from Las Vegas, USA

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In January, an emergency door plug on an Alaskan Airlines flight blew out in mid-air, injuring several people. FAA-mandated inspections found loose bolts on several 737 Max 9 aircraft in the wake of the plug failure, suggesting widespread manufacturing issues.

Following the incident, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said it was "the straw that broke the camel's back." He suggested the airline may go elsewhere for its next round of jet purchases. ®

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