A Southwest Airlines jet bound for Orlando, Fla., was forced to make an emergency landing in Pensacola after one of its engines fell apart over the Gulf of Mexico. Startled passengers on board Flight 3472 from New Orleans heard a frightening blast to the aircraft’s left at an altitude of 30,700 feet. Outside their windows, they saw smoke fuming from the exposed turbine blades at around 9:20 a.m. Saturday.
Chunks of the engine’s cowling had fallen off, according to photos taken from the aircraft’s window midflight.
The pilots managed to stabilize the aircraft and made the quick-thinking decision to divert the flight to Pensacola with only one working engine.
Southwest Airlines blamed an unspecified mechanical issue with the engine and said the National Transportation Safety Board would be investigating what it described as an “uncontained engine failure,” officials said in a statement.
None of the passengers or five crewmembers was hurt during the incident.