A part fell from an airliner taking off from John Wayne Airport and landed on a moving vehicle recently in Newport Beach, officials confirmed Wednesday.
No one was hurt in the incident, which occurred Dec. 29.
The motorist, who has not been identified, was driving on Park Avenue near Diamond Avenue on Balboa Island at about 4 p.m. when a fuel vent cover smashed onto the hood of his car, according to an account that Lee Pearl, a member of the Balboa Island Improvement Assn., posted on the social media app NextDoor.
A photograph of the damage shows the vent cover, about the size of a dinner plate, next to a gash on the hood.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency is looking into the incident. He said a plane departing the airport would have been a few thousand feet over Newport at the time.
The FAA has reached out to United Airlines, which was operating the Airbus A320 from which the part fell, and agency inspectors planned to speak this week with the contractor that was fueling the aircraft at John Wayne Airport that day, Gregor said.
“At United, safety is our top priority,” said airline spokesman Charles Hobart. “We are reviewing this incident internally and working with the authorities and manufacturers.”
If the vent cover is missing, a valve keeps fuel from leaking out of the plane, Gregor said.
Pearl, who frequently speaks out about how John Wayne Airport’s departure patterns affect Balboa Island, said, “This is just another example.”
“It’s not just the noise and pollution and health impacts,” Pearl said in an interview.
He said the fallen part is a reminder of how catastrophic a plane crash or loss of a larger part could be if it happened in a neighborhood.