An engine mounting bolt snapped off a Southwest Airlines jet shortly after takeoff Friday, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing with the engine dangling perilously from one wing.
No injuries were reported aboard Southwest's Flight 223, which left Dallas Love Field for Austin with 39 passengers and a crew of four.
Gary Barron, a vice president of Southwest Airlines, said one of three bolts holding the Boeing 737's Pratt & Whitney engine to the wing apparently was torn loose on takeoff. The rear of the engine fell two to three feet and was only inches off the ground as the plane taxied to the terminal.
"The problem was the severe angle of the engine (dangling from the right wing)," Barron said. "There was concern it would strike the runway upon landing. If it had struck hard enough, it possibly could have torn away from the wing."
Passengers were shaken by the sight of the dangling engine and the unexpected appearance of the plane's captain, Bernie Ballard, who left the cockpit to walk down the aisle and peer from a window to see the engine's angle.
"I felt my life was hanging like the engine," said Joe Rockavich, a passenger.