United flight lands safely without an external panel – adding more problems for Boeing

None of the 145 people aboard the plane were injured, a United spokesperson said

Kelly Rissman
Monday 18 March 2024 07:53 GMT
Boeing plane found to have missing panel

United Airlines detected a missing external panel after one of its planes landed in Oregon, adding to the growing pile of recent mishaps for Boeing.

The flight leaving San Francisco on the morning of 15 March landed safely at its scheduled destination in Medford, Oregon, a United spokesperson told The Independent in a statement.

“After the aircraft was parked at the gate, it was discovered to be missing an external panel,” the spokesperson said. Since there was no indication of damage during the flight, the aircraft did not declare an emergency.

United will conduct a “thorough examination” of the aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 plane,and repair it as needed “before it returns to service”.

The airline will also launch an investigation to understand how the damage occurred, the spokesperson added.

The plane was carrying 139 passengers and six crew. None of them were injured.

When asked for comment, Boeing instead referred The Independent to United.

Friday’s flight is the latest in a series of recent problems that Boeing has faced, as the aircraft company has been under intense scrutiny after a spate of issues have occurred on its planes.

The January incident in which a panel on a Boeing 737 MAX plane blew out mid-flight prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to ground 170 of the same type of aircraft. The Department of Justice has also launched a criminal inquiry into the matter.

Earlier this month, a United Airlines Boeing 737 plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Texas after its engine exploded and burst into flames mid-air.

In yet another incident in March, a LATAM Airlines flight from Australia to New Zealand dropped abruptly mid-air following what was described as a “technical event”. The incident jostled passengers, causing many to hit the roof of the plane, leading to injuries.

As scrutiny mounts, Pete Buttigieg, transportation secretary, has urged Boeing to cooperate in the many probes into the company. Boeing must “go through a serious transformation here in terms of their responsiveness, their culture and their quality issues”, he said earlier this week.

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