On December 29, United Airlines flight UA809 flew from Orange County California to Denver. The Airbus A320 took off from runway 20R and climbed safely to its cruising altitude. It even arrived in Denver early.
However a fuel cap fell off the plane and down ‘a few thousand feet’ out of the sky, ‘smashing’ onto the hood of a car driving down Park Avenue on Balboa Island.
The FAA has reached out to United Airlines, which was operating the Airbus A320 from which the part fell, and agency inspectors planned to speak this week with the contractor who was fueling the aircraft at John Wayne Airport that day, Gregor said.
“At United, safety is our top priority,” said airline spokesman Charles Hobart. “We are reviewing this incident internally and working with the authorities and manufacturers.”
United Airlines Boeing 737
Just over a year ago the FAA issued a ‘SAFO’ or Safety Alert for Operators about aftermarket fuel caps used on Airbus aircraft because the issue is apparently common, though usually “caps have been found on taxiways and runways” rather than on moving vehicles.
The aircraft, delivered to United in March 1995, reported smoke in the cabin in August 2016 and was involved in turbulence which injured two passengers near Boston in October 2012.