United Airlines flight loses engine cover over Pacific, makes safe landing in Honolulu

Passengers aboard a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Honolulu had a nightmarish experience when an engine cover came off in flight over the Pacific Ocean. They captured the terrifying scene and posted photos and videos on social media.

''Scariest flight of my life,'' tweeted Maria Falasch, along with several photos of the exposed engine.

''That looks bad,'' wrote Erik Haddad. ''Plane and simple.'' The flight was about 40 minutes away from its destination at the time, KGMB-TV reported.

''There was a loud bang…and then the plane really started shaking,'' passenger Allison Sudiacal told the station. ''There was a loud boom, and then it was like rattling and the plane was kind of shaking like boom, boom, boom.''

According to officials, the flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Honolulu after passengers called attention of the staff to the missing cover.

The National Transportation Safety Board later said it would send a team of two to investigate the incident.

''No injuries reported, flight landed safely at Honolulu Airport,'' the agency tweeted.

Fire crews stood ready to swing into action at the runway while landing. The plane was taken out of service and inspected, but what was the cause of the issue was not clear as of Tuesday night.

According to CNN affiliate KHNL, there were 363 passengers and 10 crew members aboard the plane.

''The Boeing 777 is powered by Pratt & Whitney's PW4000-112 inch engines,'' the engine manufacturer said.

"Pratt & Whitney is supporting the authorities in their investigation," the company said in a statement.

NBC News aviation expert John Cox said that loss of an engine cowling should not impact the performance of the engine and the plane and people on board should not have been in danger.

Agreeing, Max Trescott, a certified flight instructor said, "This sounds like the cowling had not been properly secured the last time maintenance had occurred, and so it's great that it was something like that as opposed to an engine shutting down, which would be a bigger issue," he said.