Jetliner Drops Engine After Takeoff, Returns Safely to Chicago

From Associated Press

A Piedmont Airlines Boeing 737 jetliner “lunged” and lurched after one of its engines fell off shortly after takeoff Friday, but the pilot landed the plane safely and none of the 32 people aboard were injured, officials said.

The incident occurred about 12 hours after a wing panel fell from an Eastern Airlines Boeing 757 near Birmingham, Ala.

Piedmont Flight 1480, with 27 passengers and five crew members aboard, had taken off from O’Hare International Airport for a non-stop flight to Charlotte, N.C.

“At approximately 1,000 feet, or just moments after takeoff, the right engine separated from the aircraft and landed on airport property,” said Dave Shipley, spokesman for USAir Inc., which owns Piedmont.


“I was scared to death,” said passenger Dante Pacioni, 56, a private pilot who had a view of the wing that lost the engine.

The plane “lunged to the left” when the engine broke away, he said, but the pilot maintained control and guided the craft back to an emergency landing at O’Hare.

The wing panel that fell from Eastern’s Boeing 757 on Thursday night was the third such incident on that type of aircraft and was the subject of a service bulletin, investigators said Friday.

The panel, made mainly of fiberglass, fell from Eastern Flight 83, which had left Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport bound for Los Angeles with 110 people aboard. The plane returned to Atlanta. No injuries were reported.

Boeing has issued a special service bulletin on the panel, indicating some problems with its installation, said Jay Golden, chief of the Atlanta office of the National Transportation Safety Board.