The right engine on a Boeing 737 jetliner fell off shortly after takeoff Friday, forcing the plane to return to O'Hare International Airport, officials said. No injuries were reported.
Piedmont Airlines Flight 1480 took off from O'Hare with 27 passengers and five crew members aboard, then returned for an emergency landing shortly before 8 a.m., said FAA spokesman Mort Edelstein."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, a spokesman for U.S. Air Inc., which owns Piedmont.
The engine from the twin-engine jet fell in a field one-half mile west of the airport, Edelstein said. The plane had been bound for Charlotte, N.C.
"I know of no injuries or fire or ground damage from the engine," FAA spokesman Don Zochert said.
A witness gave a conflicting report of where the engine fell.
"There was a lot of smoke coming out of one engine, and we saw it leaning, almost falling off, and then it fell off . . . it was about a few hundred feet in the air and landed in a grassy part of the runway," Tom Waldinski, a city of Chicago worker told WBBM radio.
"I was sick, scared, and I guess it wasn't our time, because the way the wing looked after we got off the plane, it looked like it had no chance of staying on. Had it gone, we would have been gone," said passenger Bob Mitchard of Westchester, Ill.
Two runways were shut down because of debris from the engine, delaying a number of flights at the nation's busiest airport.
The engine was a JT8 turbofan manufactured by Pratt & Whitney, Zochert said. The engines of a Boeing 737-200 are mounted under each wing and the airplane is designed to fly on one engine.