Delta flight returns to MSP after engine casing 'separates' - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Delta flight returns to MSP after engine casing 'separates'

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Passengers aboard Delta Flight 309 to the Dominican Republic had to backtrack to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday after parts of the engine's outer casing separated.

According to a Delta Air Lines spokesperson, the flight crew followed standard procedures by turning the flight around after noticing vibration from the starboard engine after departing for Punta Cana on Monday morning.

"These fellows did the right thing by immediately landing even though they knew there was no major danger," Ross Aimer, a retired pilot for United Airlines and CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, told Fox 9 News.

The Boeing 737 was carrying 149 people and was on-time when it departed at 7:10 a.m., but an hour later, it was back where it began.

An emergency was declared so the flight could get priority from air traffic control, and the plane landed without incident. Ground equipment was then used to tow it back to the gate.

Delta confirmed that portions of the engine cowling, the outer casing, separated; however, they would not speculate on the cause. Technicians are examining the aircraft.

Aimer explained that the cowling only functions as a cover, and he said planes can continue to fly without one.

"They're not bolted. There are actually quick disconnect latches that come together," he said. "At that speed, sometimes that cowling -- if it's not latched properly -- would come apart." 

A different aircraft ferried the passengers to their destination.

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