Engine cover falls off Southwest Boeing plane during takeoff in Denver, US

The Houston-bound Boeing 737-800 operated by Southwest Airlines landed safely after the incident.

Boeing has been involved in a number of recent safety incidents [Ted S Warren/AP]

An engine cover fell off a Boeing plane and hit the plane’s wing flap during takeoff in Denver, the United States, officials have said, in the latest safety incident involving the beleaguered aircraft manufacturer.

The Houston-bound Boeing 737-800 plane operated by Southwest Airlines returned safely to Denver International Airport after the incident, the Federal Aviation Administration said on Sunday.

Southwest Airlines said that passengers headed to Houston were transferred to another aircraft.

“We apologise 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,” the airline said in a statement.

Video posted on social media showed the cover blowing open, before ripping off as the aircraft moved down the runway.

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft entered service in June 2015, according to FAA records.

In air traffic control audio obtained by Houston broadcaster KHOU, an air traffic control official could be heard declaring an emergency and telling the plane to return to land.

“We’ve got a piece of the engine cowling hanging off apparently,” the official said.

Boeing declined to comment, referring inquiries to Southwest Airlines.

Boeing, which dominates the market for commercial aircraft along with Netherlands-based Airbus, has faced scrutiny over its safety record following fatal crashes involving the Boeing 737 MAX in 2018 and 2019 as well as a series of less serious recent incidents.

Last week, a Southwest 737-800 flight aborted takeoff at Texas’s Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport after the crew reported engine issues.

In January, a door panel on a Boeing 737 MAX operated by Alaska Airlines blew out mid-flight.

A preliminary report by the US National Transportation Safety Board into that incident found evidence suggesting that four key bolts designed to hold the door in place had been missing.

Last month, dozens of people suffered injuries when a Boeing aircraft en route to New Zealand from Australia experienced what airline officials described as a “strong movement” due to a technical fault.

An engine fire the same month forced a Boeing 737 to make an emergency landing in Houston, Texas shortly after takeoff.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies