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PHOTOS: United 767 Loses Underside Panel Mid-Flight

On Thursday, August 26, 2022, a United Airlines Boeing 767-400 performing flight UA 23 to Dublin (DUB) lost one of its main underside panels during its departure from Newark (EWR). After hearing the loud bang - the sound of the panel flying off the aircraft - the pilots decided to continue to Dublin, where the flight made a safe but late landing. Upon a closer look at the damage, it was found that the right underside panel next to the landing gear was the source of the commotion. ( More...

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Paul Miller 13
I think that IF I had been the PIC on that flight Deck? I would have made a fast return back to EWR? but I guess that the crew made the choice to continue and it all ended well and safely. Wonder where that panel landed?
dnorthern 6
It’s Newark. Finding that panel will be like finding a needle in a haystack
sparkie624 14
He still should have returned! that was damage to the Aircraft... They heard the noise and should have played it safe... I work in maintenance. Crew made a bad error and was flying over water... Suppose things turned much worse 1/2 way enroute!
Cleffer 10
A homeless person is probably using it for a roof in his new man-cave.
Peter Fuller 2
Another report at states that “…..climbing through 16,000 feet…the crew heard a Los bang. In the absence of any abnormal indication the crew continued the flight and landed safely on Dublin’s runway 28L about 5:40 hours later.”

Track from Newark to Dublin heads northeast along the coast before heading out over the ocean from Nova Scotia or Newfoundland. Plenty of suitable diversion airports along that course available if things had deteriorated.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

AWAAlum 9
It would serve you well to think things over before posting.
Paul Ipolito 11
Idiot. (You, not the captain)
Dale Ballok 5
So, how did the flight crew determine the missing”panel” wasn’t going to be a hazard to flight, possibly affecting the other metal around it?
Stephen Leftly 4
Yep. If you look at the photo it appears something was ripped off just to the left of the landing gear.

Since the flight crew had no positive indication that told them what had just happened, they were completely in the dark. ie the classic unknown unknown. The only rational response would have been to get the aircraft back on the ground.

Other commenters have remarked that there were many places they could divert to before heading out over the ocean..which is true.... but rather misses the point. If something serious had got damaged the next indication that something was damaged and was falling apart may have been too late to recover from.

Low probability - for sure BUT risk = size of impact of failure * the right hand number is low the left hand certainly isn't.
George Wilhelmsen 2
No alarms.
No loss of performance.
No loss of cabin pressure.
No loss of system pressure.
They are trained for events like this.
sparkie624 6
But they had a loud Noise or Bang... Period End of it.. If nothing else, go back for a GVI (General Visual Inspection)... Schedules are meaningless if you risk not getting there... The Crew was too worried about being on time.
sparkie624 5
BTW, There training should have told them to go back... They may have been trained, but anytime you hear a loud noise from a plane like that... You divert... Period.. You do not know what came lose and no one could have seen anything... So what, they waste a couple thousand pounds of Fuel!
David Beattie 7
Their (my) training was to consult with SFO Maintenance Control first. A second opinion is always helpful and at UA, there is never any pressure from Maintenance to continue if the pilot feels otherwise.
sparkie624 8
I have worked Maintenance Control for many years... A Pilot calls and asks me what to do after a Bang or loud unexplained Noise, I can going to tell him it is ultimately your choice, but I recommend Returning and pass him back to his Dispatcher! (In regards to Maintenance Control, if I was to apply pressure it would be to Divert or Return... Always play it safe)
D Kaufman 5
I totally agree. I think most pilots would have returned. A big bang is not normal and they didn't know it wasn't something more serious. BTW, I liked "Schedules are meaningless if you risk not getting there". Can I use that? :-)
timothy branson 0
Always appreciate a Monday day night arm chair pilot comment.
AWAAlum 2
I can't think of anyone contributing to this thread more qualified than Sparkie.
Jim Smirh -1
Each modern aircraft is supplied with a registered Quarter. When a decision needs to be made when there is no written procedure, a flight attendant is required to flip that quarter. "Heads we continue", "Tails we return". Simple, and no fuel/power required. Next?
Jim Smirh 3
Main consequence was probably an increased fuel burn from the extra drag. That should have been determined well before leaving enroute fields (US/Canadian) access.
Chris B 3
I sure hope that they talked to company about this event. If they didn't, they'll be repercussions as a result. It certainly has United's attention now and probably the FAA as well.
sparkie624 5
Bad Title... Technically this is an Access Door and not a Panel. This grants access to the A/C pack (Heating/Air-conditioning System.). The article could have been written quite a bit better.
Cleffer 12
I, for one, am SHOCKED that the media got something wrong relating to aviation!! :D
Franky16 5
Common on this site...
sparkie624 5
They do a lot of reporting.... Just not "Accurate" reporting
Bayouflier 6
This Aeroxplorer publication appears to be a source of second hand aviation info written by 10th graders. Not impressed.
Jon Duncan 2
Quite a bit of armchair quarter backing and wanna be pilots providing comments. Reference David Beattie's post.
George Wilhelmsen 3
This is a minor maintenance issue. Had the aircraft experienced performance issues or lost pressurization, it would have returned. This is much ado about nothing on a slow news day apparently.

Pilots are trained to deal with issues. They went through their checklist, found nothing amiss, and continued. The Friday Morning quarterbacks need to pipe down.
Stephen Leftly 3
Sure let's roll the dice and see what happens...gee they got away with it this time so they made the right call...not

The pilots had no idea of what happened just guessed it wasn't critical and hadn't damaged far as they knew.

Complacency is the leading cause of accidents.

For example if you read up on the Space Shuttle crashes. The problems that caused both accidents ("O" ring failure in the solid fuel booster due to cold, and tile damage due to chunks of ice hitting the tiles on liftoff) were known but just dismissed up until they caused a fatal accident. Yes we knew we had a problem but ......(insert favorite management excuse here)

Another example was the loss of the Lauda Air 767 due to inflight operation of the thrust reversers.... Problems with the thrust reverser on the plane were well documented but not resolved and it was repeatedly put back in service with a known unresolved result 233 people died. They, the airline, rolled the dice one too many times.

You don't know....what you don't know .....
Mike Williams 1
steve jenney 0
I'm not an aviator or mechanic but if I were a Pax on that flight I would be contacting a lawye! To my knowledge airplanes are not supposed to be flying around with missing body parts ESPECIALLY OVER THE OCEAN ! Those PILOTS SHOULD BE GROUNDED FOREVER! If a LOUD BANG is heard INSIDE THE PLANE something is amiss. It's not like the windows were open and a bang was heard from the outside. They could not see what the bang was caused by..maybe the panel or slat or flap or.whatever was HANGING OFF and could dislodge at anytime midnight over the ocean and penetrate the skin or engine of the aircraft? This was clearly an unnecessary rusk on the part if the crew and the airline! From the looks of the picture there appeared to be a lot of rust and corrosion on that aircraft. They got lucky plain and simple!
James Simms 3
That was my thought. Someone will hire a Personal Injury Lawyer claiming ‘Mental Distress’ looking for a quick buck or two for both parties.
sparkie624 2
I would really love to hear the CVR at the time it departed just to hear what the pilots were thinking... But we may never know.


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