An unsecured engine door panel fell from a passenger plane and damaged a wing as the aircraft was taking off from a UK airport, an accident report said today.
Before departure from Southampton Airport, the captain had inspected the plane, including a check that the engine panels were secure, the report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.
Also, no abnormalities were found by a de-icing crew who had worked on the plane - a Dash 8 operated by airline Flybe - before it left.
A pilot sitting in a parked aircraft saw the panel thrown upward from the Dash 8 as it left Southampton with 40 passengers on board on the morning of April 22 this year.
He reported this to air traffic controllers (ATC), who passed the information to the flight crew.
The AAIB said: "Other than the report from the ATC, the flight crew were not aware of anything unusual. The aircraft appeared to behave normally."
ATC advised the crew that a panel and some other debris had been found on the airfield and the captain decided to return to Southampton where the aircraft landed without further incident.
The report said the panel had damaged the leading edge of the right wing of the plane.
The door panel was found in grass near the runway. Two of its latches were fully open and had dirt and grass in them, "indicating they were in the open position when the door impacted the ground".
The AAIB said "evidence suggested" that the door had not been fully latched following maintenance work done at Southampton overnight before the flight.
The report said Flybe had launched a safety campaign to highlight the importance of securing and checking engine access doors on all its aircraft.