Southwest Engine Cover Loss Traced to Maintenance Issue, NTSB Says

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has attributed the loss of an engine cover on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 to a maintenance error. The incident, which occurred during takeoff in Denver on Sunday, resulted in the engine cowling detached, falling off, and striking the wing flap. NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy confirmed the cause after a Senate hearing, revealing that the aircraft had undergone maintenance the night before the mishap.


"It's a maintenance issue," Homendy stated, adding that the NTSB opted not to launch a full investigation due to sufficient information gathered. An on-site inspection by an NTSB structural engineer in Denver deemed a formal probe unnecessary. However, the NTSB did highlight potential shortcomings in latching procedures for the engine cowling, the technical term for the cover.


Homendy elaborated, suggesting issues with how these latches visually indicate a secure closure. "Southwest is addressing it," she said, referring to the airline's review of their latching procedures to ensure proper locking mechanisms are in place. Prior incidents involving engine cowling loss have pointed toward failures in latching the fan cowl doors. 

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This latest episode suggests a similar possibility, prompting Southwest to re-evaluate its maintenance protocols to prevent future occurrences. Thankfully, the incident resulted in no injuries and the aircraft landed safely. Passengers were transferred to a different plane to complete their journey to Houston.

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