United Airlines plane in emergency landing after engine cover rips off in mid-air over Pacific

Passengers have told of their terror after a cover was torn off one of the engines of a United Airlines plane in mid-air, forcing an emergency landing.

Travellers on flight 1175 from San Francisco to Honolulu described “a loud bang” before the plane “started shaking”, with one saying it was the “scariest flight of my life”.

An engine cover of the Boeing 777-222 came off about 35 minutes before the scheduled landing.

The pilot sent out a distress call and crew followed “all the necessary protocols to safely land the aircraft”, United said in a statement.

Images and videos taken through the plane windows and posted to social media show the exposed engine shaking after the exterior cover fell away.

Passenger Allison Sudiacal told Hawaii News Now: “There was a loud bang … and then the plane really started shaking.

“There was a loud boom and then it was like rattling and the plane was kind of shaking like boom, boom, boom.”

Airport workers examine the damaged engine after it landed safely (AP)

Another passenger, Maria Falaschi, said it was the “scariest flight of my life”. 

Others remained calm throughout the drama, with Google engineer Erik Haddad posting to Twitter an image of the engine alongside the caption: “I don’t see anything about this in the manual.”

The plane landed with emergency services on standby close by, said Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahar.

The pilot and crew were praised for doing a “good job” of landing the plane calmly and safely.

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