Michael Francis McElroy/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) — A Frontier Airlines plane bound for Tampa was forced to return to Las Vegas after an engine malfunction, according to the airline.
On Friday morning, a section of the engine cover, called a cowling, came loose and separated from the aircraft, Frontier Airlines said.
"Our pilots followed procedure and immediately returned to the airport. The engine continued to operate normally and the aircraft, an Airbus 320, landed safely," Frontier said in a statement. "Safety is our top priority at Frontier Airlines and we would like to acknowledge the professionalism of our pilots and flight attendants. We are working to get our passengers to their destinations as quickly as possible.”
Las Vegas' McCarran Airport told ABC News that the plane had landed safely at 7:26 a.m. PT and reached the gate on its own.
Passenger Jazmin Pedraza described the chaotic scene aboard the flight to ABC News Friday.
"As the plane started to accelerate, to take off, there were engine pieces flying and the engine had caught a slight fire. … One man started yelling and then everyone was yelling for assistance and pressing the buttons for [the crew] to stop the plane but we had already started taking off," she said. “Once we got the attention of the flight attendants, she came and looked out of our windows to see what was going on and then went to call the pilot and got the passengers under control. Everyone started making phone calls to their loved ones and crying and panicking then they announced we will be doing an emergency landing and we stayed in the air for about 10 to 15 minutes until we were able to safely land the plane.”
The airport said no one was injured aboard the plane, which was carrying 166 passengers and crew. The airfield staff reported debris on or near the runway.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it had sent an inspector to the airport to look at the aircraft.
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