Denver-Bound Aircraft Has Engine Problems, Lands Safely at XNA

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A twin engine United Express aircraft with 53 people aboard traveling from Nashville to Denver landed safely at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport about 9 a.m. Monday (Feb. 18) after reporting in-flight engine problems, airport officials said.

XNA Public Safety Director, Gilbert Neil said that the pilot had to shut down one of its engines in-flight.

"It just kind of got quiet on my side of the plane I was right behind the wing, she just that we were beginning to descent and everyone was kind of questioning why were beginning our descent and then she said don`t panic, there`s been a problem, but I don`t know yet," said passenger C.J. Olson.

No injuries were reported.

In the terminal, Olson, a passenger headed to Denver on business, told 5NEWS a flight attendant alerted passengers the aircraft was having problems and urged them not to panic.

"You just kind of have that moment where the flight attendant came on the loud speaker and said, 'We are diverting to Fayetteville, Arkansas. I don't really know why. I'll give you more information as I find out,'" Olson said, "and then it was maybe a couple of minutes until she came back on and told us we had lost an engine and not to panic. The entire plane just went quiet. It was an interesting experience. You see these things on the movies and to be there for real, it's just very interesting."

The initial midair report from the flight deck indicated the aircraft had engine problems and needed to make an emergency landing, officials said. Emergency crews awaited the aircraft on its approach into Northwest Arkansas.

About an hour after the twin-engine regional jet landed safely at the Bentonville airport, it was pushed back from the terminal with no passengers on board. From there, it taxied to a repair area at the airport for inspection by mechanics, officials said.

The passengers had been directed into the terminal and were seen in line awaiting another flight.

The aircraft was at first described by airport officials as a Continental flight. United and Continental merged several years ago and use tail markings and logo that reflect both companies. United Continental Holdings, the parent company, is headquartered in Chicago.

All the passengers were booked on other United Flights leaving XNA.