Still dealing with the fallout of two deadly crashes in the past six months, and serious questions about the safety of its 737 Max aircraft, things got a shade bleaker for Boeing Tuesday when a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 was forced to make an emergency landing in Orlando shortly after takeoff. The flight had a two-person flight crew but did not have any passengers aboard because the line of Boeing planes have not yet been cleared to fly again by the FAA. The plane was in the air in order to be relocated to southern California where it was to be stored until the engineering issues on the 737 Max planes are resolved.
Southwest Flight 8701 departed from Orlando International Airport at 2:50 p.m. Tuesday, but was forced to return minutes later after pilots reported an engine problem. “The Crew followed protocol and safely landed back at the airport. The flight was scheduled to fly to Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, Calif., for short-term storage,” Southwest said in a statement. “The Boeing 737 MAX 8 will be moved to our Orlando maintenance facility for a review.”
The engine problem is thought to be unrelated to the plane’s automatic anti-stall system currently under investigation after the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 shortly after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which crashed just over two weeks ago. At the time of the grounding, Southwest had 34 of the 70 Boeing 737 Max jets in operation in the U.S.