Passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 1175 to Honolulu described their panic after watching the cover of one of two engines on their plane explode as it was crossing over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday.
The flight was en route from San Francisco when the cover on the right engine of the Boeing 777-200 disintegrated about 40 minutes before landing. Passengers said they heard heard a big boom and felt the plane begin to shake intensely.
“There was a loud bang … and then the plane really started shaking,” passenger Allison Sudiacal told Hawaii News Now. “It was like rattling and the plane was kind of shaking like boom, boom, boom.”
“Back and forth, down one side and down to the other side,” Haley Ebert, told the New York Times. “The whole thing felt like it was a roller coaster going to go off the tracks.”
Ebert said she watched the engine cover explode into shrapnel from her window seat on the right wing of the aircraft.
Pilots were able to make an emergency landing at the intended destination, Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The flight was met on the tarmac by fire crews, but no one was injured and the passengers were able to disembark as normal, according to Hawaii News Now.
One Twitter user Maria Falaschi described the scene as the “scariest flight of my life.”
The reason for the malfunction is not yet clear. An investigation is underway by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the Times.
“United flight 1175 traveling to Honolulu from San Francisco landed safely after the pilots called for an emergency landing because of an issue with the #2 engine. Our pilots followed all necessary protocols to safely land the aircraft. The aircraft taxied to the gate and passengers deplaned normally,” the airline said in a statement. “United is fully cooperating with the NTSB and FAA investigation of the event.”
Passengers said United’s crew was helpful in reassuring everybody on board.
“They kept us informed,” Sudiacal , who was traveling with her husband and 4-month-old, told Hawaii News Now. “They let us know that we had to brace for impact in case there was a rough landing. It was scary. But they did a really good job.”
And at least one passenger had the sense of mind to crack a mid-air joke about the entire ordeal. “I don’t see anything about this in the manual,” he wrote.