A United Airlines plane travelling from San Francisco to Hawaii was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engine covers ripped apart mid-flight.
“Scariest flight of my life,” Maria Falaschi, a marketing consultant from San Francisco, wrote on Twitter. She posted photos on the social media website of the aircraft’s engine with its covering, also known as the cowling, missing.
Google engineer Erik Haddad tweeted images of the exposed engine, quipping: “I don’t see anything about this in the manual.” He later conceded: “That looks bad, plane and simple,” as he posted a video of the violently juddering, damaged engine.
Meanwhile passenger Allision Sudical told Hawaii News Now: “There was a loud bang... and then the plane really started shaking. It was like rattling and the plane was kind of shaking like boom, boom, boom.”
Further footage shows passengers adopting the crash position as the plane prepares to land, chanting “brace, brace, brace” before bursting in to cheers and applause as they safely touch down.
The news channel reports the tense instructions from the pilot, who was heard to say: “If you haven’t already, roll the fire trucks.” A member of air traffic control responded: “They will be standing by.”
The pilots declared an emergency, landing the Boeing 777-222 with more than 370 people on board safely at Honolulu International Airport.
A spokesman said he could not confirm whether or not the engine on United flight 1175 continued to function after the cowling came off.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating the incident.