Engine cover breaks off as plane takes off, terrifying passengers

The Frontier jet carrying 166 on board was bound for Tampa but had to to return to Las Vegas due to the malfunction.
1:38 | 11/30/18

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Transcript for Engine cover breaks off as plane takes off, terrifying passengers
That's what we likely saw today. No one thankfully was killed. Matt. Thank you. And passengers seeing the cover of an airplane engine ripping off, the engine was exposed. This was a flight from Las Vegas to Tampa. Here's David Kerley. Reporter: This is what passengers saw while racing down the runway for takeoff. Everyone started yelling and looking out the window, yelling, "Stop the plane. The engine's on fire! Stop the plane, stop the plane!" Reporter: But the frontier jet got off the ground in las Vegas, terrifying some of the 166 onboard the airbus a320. We can see that metal had been ripped off of the engine. Frontier 260, I think we got something wrong with one of our engines. Reporter: And it wasn't just passengers who saw the damage. Someone at the airport said that you're -- they just told us now your second engine cowling appears open or something like that. Okay. We need to declare an emergency back to the airport. Reporter: It was the engine covering, it's called a cowling, that had been shedded, exposing the actual engine, which can still operate. But the turn back to Las Vegas couldn't come soon enough for the passengers headed to Tampa. It was panic. Complete panic. I was shaking. We were kind of preparing for the worst at that point. Reporter: The jet landed safely and got to the gate on its own power, with that exposed engine. David, as you point out, that plane was taking off, too late to abort takeoff. But it was some time before it could get back down. Reporter: It had to circle around and come back to the airport. The airline says passengers were never in danger, because the cowling is only aerodynamic.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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