United Airlines flight from SFO lands with missing panel

United Airlines 433 with the missing external panel from its plane. The flight landed in Medford, Ore. without incident. Photo by Andy Atkinson with Rogue Valley Times.

A United Airlines flight landed with a missing panel from the plane, believed to have fallen mid-flight.

The missing panel was discovered when the plane was being parked, according to a United Airlines spokesperson.

The plane was a Boeing 737 that left San Francisco International Airport for Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Medford, Oregon Friday around 10:20 a.m. 

The plane was carrying 139 passengers with six crew members. 

United Airlines said a thorough examination of the plane will be conducted and perform needed repairs before it returns to service. An investigation will also be done to understand what caused the panel to fall off.

Rouge Valley International-Medford Airport's Director Amber Judd said the plane landed safely and without incident around noon, and the missing panel was discovered during a routine post-flight inspection. 

FlightAware shows the plane landed 17 minutes earlier than expected, at 11:36 a.m.

No debris was found at MFR and operations continued as normal a few minutes later.

United Airlines clarified flight UA433 did not result in an emergency landing, as "there was no indication of the damage during flight."


Boeing whistleblower John Barnett found dead days after testifying against company: report

John Barnett, 62, worked for Boeing for three decades and retired in 2017.

United Airlines and Boeing have been in the spotlight with several incidents stemming from recent flights.

On March 4, a flight from Houston to Florida was forced to return after flames were seen "spewing" from one of its engines within 15 minutes of the flight. Then, on March 7, a plane bound for Osaka, Japan departing SFO lost a tire, landing atop cars and forcing a landing at Los Angeles International Airport. 

The following day, a United Airlines flight in Houston went off the taxiway and into a grassy area. No injuries were reported. 

That same day in the afternoon, another United flight involving an Airbus made an emergency landing at LAX after a hydraulics problem was discovered. That flight was destined for Mexico City and carried 105 passengers with five crew members.

Separately, an SFO-bound United flight from Sydney, Australia was forced to turn around after a maintenance issue was discovered on Tuesday. 

Weeks earlier, a United flight from SFO to Boston was diverted to Denver after one of its wings was damaged and in January, an Alaska Airlines flight suffered a blown-out door that eventually led to hundreds of canceled flights and the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 9s.