FAA Investigating Latest Boeing Incident

On Sunday morning, Southwest Airlines experienced a startling mid-air event when an engine cover detached from a Boeing 737-800 during takeoff from Denver International Airport, bound for Houston. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) promptly announced an investigation into the incident, causing Southwest shares to dip around 1% in premarket trading before the Monday opening in New York.

The flight was carrying 135 passengers and six crew members. After declaring an emergency, the pilots returned the plane safely to Denver International Airport. Passengers had alerted crew members that an engine cowling had fallen off and struck the wing flap. Several captured the event on video, and one told reporters they heard a loud bang followed by seeing the engine cover peeling away.

Southwest Airlines arranged for passengers to be flown to their destination on another aircraft, leading to a delay of around three hours. The airline also emphasized the priority placed on safety and informed that the aircraft was undergoing a thorough inspection by maintenance teams. Recent mechanical issues with Boeing planes have led to growing concern, as the incidents have plagued not only Southwest but multiple airlines globally.

The FAA’s decision to investigate comes amid intense scrutiny of Boeing’s production quality and maintenance standards. Previous incidents, such as a door plug panel tearing off a new Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 jet, have led to grounded flights, mandated inspections, and even a criminal investigation by the Justice Department. Boeing’s challenges are compounded by a directive from the FAA requiring inspections and component replacements on the engine cowling of Boeing 737 NG airplanes following a fatal incident in 2018.

The FAA’s standard investigation procedures will begin with the examination of maintenance records and interviewing witnesses. Even though air travel safety has been in the news recently because of multiple equipment failures, Biden administration Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Sunday that it remains the “safest mode of transportation in America.”

For Southwest, a carrier known for its budget-friendly options and extensive domestic network, the Boeing-related incidents challenge its reputation and operational reliability. Boeing faces intensified scrutiny among demands for better quality control and transparency in its manufacturing processes.