Plane Returns to O'Hare After Engine Housing Detaches

A Spirit Airlines plane returned to O’Hare International Airport Saturday morning after part of the housing for one of its engines fell off shortly after takeoff, officials said.

The cowling for the right engine on Flight 409, headed for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., became detached from the Airbus A319 and the aircraft had to return to O’Hare around 5:45 a.m., according to FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory.

Cory said a passenger observed the cowling for the right engine leave the aircraft.

“The flight crew received an indication of a possible mechanical issue,” said airline spokeswoman Misty Pinson. “Following procedures, the crew declared an emergency and the plane returned to Chicago, where it landed safely."

Customers were safely assisted off the plane by crew members, Pinson said. Some customers were able to board another plane to Fort Lauderdale, while those needing to make connections were rebooked. Customers were also offered refunds if needed.

The right engine cowlings were recovered on airport propertu, Pinson said.

No injuries were reported in the incident and the FAA and Spirit Airlines are investigating. 

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