Flight lands at MFR Friday missing external panel

MEDFORD, Ore.- A United Airlines flight that landed safely in Medford earlier Friday was discovered to be missing a panel underneath the plane. It’s the latest in a string of recent safety issues for one of the Northwest’s largest companies, Boeing.

Rogue Valley International Medford Airport’s Airport Director, Amber Judd, says pilots were performing their routine post flight inspection when they discovered the missing panel. She says the most important thing is that everyone is safe.

“It landed safely, all’s well that ends well,” Judd said, “For sure, we’re glad- grateful for that, obviously”.

Judd says no issues were reported during flight 433 from San Francisco to Medford Friday morning. The plane is a Boeing 7-37-800, tail number N26226. But unlike other Boeing airplanes that have had safety issues recently, this plane wasn’t a max airplane.

“Max’s have been in the news a lot lately,” Judd said, “It’s not a max aircraft, it’s 737-8, an older max 8”.

According to the FAA registration of the tail number, the plane was manufactured in 1998 and was operated by Continental Airlines before united purchased it. The airport says after the missing panel was discovered at the gate, the tower paused all flights to make sure the runway was clear.

“We didn’t find any debris or any panels or any anything, so it was reopened, and everybody landed, and operations continued normally,” Judd said.

United says the flight from San Francisco had 139 passengers and 6 crew members on board. The plane was supposed to take off for Denver at 4:30 pm Friday afternoon but was delayed.

“We got a call just saying that it was delayed and there was a… there was some small… a small part that needed fixed,” Denver Passenger Connor Adams said.

Adams says he was trying to get back home to Indianapolis after taking a trip to Medford. He told us all passengers had to be rebooked on new flights when United Airlines canceled the flight later that day.

“The reason that we’re out here now is due to the… the gate pretty much clearing us out for… basically to book a new flight,” Adams said, “I was going to go to Denver, a late flight to Denver and I would’ve had a hotel in Denver due to their delays but… I’m just trying to figure out how to get back to Indiana”.

United airlines did send nbc5 news a statement. It says quote:

“This afternoon United flight 433 landed safely at its scheduled destination at Rogue Valley International/Medford Airport. After the aircraft was parked at the gate, it was discovered to be missing an external panel. We’ll conduct a thorough examination of the plane and perform all the needed repairs before it returns to service. We’ll also conduct an investigation to better understand how this damage occurred.”

NBC5 reached out to Boeing for a comment. They referred us to United Airlines for information about its fleet and operations.

Check our original article on the flight here.

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NBC5 News Reporter Lauren Pretto grew up in Livermore, California and attended University of California, Santa Cruz, graduating with a double major in Film/Digital Media and Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. Lauren is a lover of books, especially Agatha Christie and Gothic novels. When her nose isn't buried in a book, she knits, bakes, and writes.
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