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United flight forced to make emergency landing due to damaged wing

A United Airlines flight bound for Boston was forced to make an emergency landing in Denver Monday, after part of the aircraft’s wing was damaged, according to the airline.

The flight took off from San Francisco International Airport Monday afternoon and was on its way to Boston International Airport when the crew reported a “possible flap issue,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement to The Hill.

United Airlines said the incident aboard the Boeing 757-200 plane stemmed from “an issue with the slat on” the aircraft’s wing, but did not expand upon details.

United Flight 354 landed at Denver International Airport at around 5:15 p.m. MST, the FAA said. No injuries were reported, the airline confirmed to The Hill.

The company arranged for a different aircraft to take the 165 customers aboard to Boston. That flight departed Denver at 8:05 p.m. MST and arrived in Boston shortly before 2 a.m. EST, the airline confirmed — roughly three hours later than scheduled.

Kevin Clarke, one of the passengers on the flight, told Boston 25 News that he saw bird strike forms while walking down the jetway in San Francisco and heard a “loud, buzzing noise” upon takeoff, but it eventually faded. A cause of the incident, however, has yet to be determined.

“So I didn’t think much of it and all of a sudden the pilot is coming back, so I threw my window open, peeked out the window and the whole leading edge of the wing was destroyed,” Clarke told the outlet.

“First there was some panic, but the pilot had come back, looked at it, took some pictures of it, talked to the guys on the ground, said yup, proceed to Denver, shouldn’t be a problem,” he added later.

The passenger said he thought United handled the situation well, according to the local outlet.

The FAA said it will investigate the incident.

The incident comes more than a month after a Boeing 737 Max 9 experienced a midair blowout during an Alaska Airlines flight. The blowout left a gaping hole on the side of the aircraft while 16,000 feet in the air above Oregon.

The FAA quickly launched an investigation into the production of the plane and temporarily grounded aircrafts of the same model.

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