A United Airlines jet was found to be missing an external panel after completing a scheduled flight to southern Oregon on Friday.

The Boeing 737-800, operating as United Flight 433, landed at Rogue Valley International Medford Airport (MFR) shortly before noon after an hour-long flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

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There was no mid-flight emergency, a United spokesperson said, nor anything else to suggest that there was damage during what appeared to be a routine flight. The missing panel was only discovered after the flight arrived and passengers disembarked. There were no injuries reported among the 139 passengers and six crewmembers.

After arriving at the gate, a routine inspection found a missing panel on the underside of the aircraft, near where the wing meets the body of the plane, airline and airport officials said. A photo first published by the Rogue Valley Times showed a jagged piece of metal plating appearing as if a piece of it had been torn away. The panel covered mechanical parts next to where the landing gear deploys.

In a statement provided to TPG, United said it was investigating the incident.

“We’ll conduct a thorough examination of the plane and perform all the needed repairs before it returns to service,” the airline said. “We’ll also conduct an investigation to better understand how this damage occurred.”

The older “Next Generation” 737 was first delivered to Continental Airlines in 1998, according to Airfleets.net, and became part of United’s fleet when the two airlines merged in 2012.

It was the latest incident featuring a Boeing jet as the planemaker has come under intense scrutiny following an early January incident aboard an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9, during which a door plug that seals part of the fuselage blew off the jet mid-flight and caused the cabin to depressurize.

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It was also the latest among several incidents that have involved United.

Last week, a United Airlines 737 MAX rolled off of a runway into the grass at IAH, causing part of its landing gear to collapse. A day earlier, a tire fell from a Boeing 777-200 flown by United as it departed from San Francisco International Airport, damaging cars in an employee parking lot.

In an email Friday night, a Boeing spokesperson referred questions to United.

We’ll have more on this developing story as warranted.


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