The plane was forced to make an emergency landing in North Carolina, leaving passengers uninjured but emotionally rattled by the experience.
Video captured by passenger Logan Webb shows the giant engine churning with the aircraft component inside. The turbine can be heard making a loud grinding sound that nearly drowns out the “fasten seatbelts” alert in the cabin.
Passengers say they heard a loud boom approximately one hour into the flight.
“After we heard the boom we just saw all this smoke coming up into the cabin, and that’s when we really started freaking out,” passenger Avery Porch told WMAR News in Baltimore. “It started slowing down a little bit, it started getting hot (and the) air cut off.”
Porch’s boyfriend, Tyler Kreuger, said he was afraid he would die.
“I just pulled out my phone and I knew I didn’t have service but I just texted my mom … I love you.”
Passenger John Leonard also reported hearing a loud boom from the back of the plane. “We heard and felt everything,” he told ABC11. He says the plane was vibrating “for a good while,” prompting some people to try and brace the hull. “We were afraid that it was going to come caving down so we were holding up the sides of the plane,” he said.
Delta Air Lines says the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina due to an engine problem.
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The incident happened on board a McDonnell Douglas MD-88 aircraft, a 32-year-old, medium-sized plane with 149 passenger seats.
The aircraft landed safely at 2:20 p.m. with fire and rescue crews waiting nearby.
Passengers were rebooked on another flight to Atlanta later that day.
Delta says the aircraft’s engine has been replaced.
“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience this diversion may have caused,” Delta said in a statement on Tuesday.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the plane component as a piece of the nose cone. The text and headline have been corrected to reflect that it was part of the engine.