Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane — the same model that has been grounded after two recent crashes — made an emergency landing Tuesday afternoon at Orlando International Airport, a spokeswoman said.
There were no passengers aboard. Two pilots were flying to California when they encountered engine problems about 10 minutes after takeoff, said Rod Johnson, spokesman for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.
They turned around and landed safely, Johnson said. It happened around 3 p.m.
According to the online flight-tracking serviceFlightAware, the plane was going to Victorville, Calif., which is about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles. It was being flown there for storage, Johnson said.
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the emergency landing in a statement.
“The crew of Southwest Airlines Flight 8701, a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, declared an emergency after the aircraft experienced a reported engine problem while departing from Orlando International Airport in Florida about 2:50 p.m. today,” the statement said. “The aircraft returned and landed safely in Orlando. No passengers were aboard the aircraft, which was being ferried to Victorville, Calif., for storage. The FAA is investigating.”
Dan Landson, a spokesman for Southwest, said it was a “ferry flight” to California for temporary storage. He said the pilots followed protocol and there were no injuries.
“The Boeing 737 MAX 8 will be moved to our Orlando maintenance facility for a review,” Landson said.
According to a March 13FAA order that grounded all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the country, airlines are allowed to fly the planes without any passengers to a base for storage or maintenance.