Emergency landing after part of plane flies off

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(CNN) — Isabel Capuano was on a flight to Florida when she looked out the window and saw a piece of the aircraft fly off.

At first, it appeared to be a piece of an engine cover lifting up. Then, “the whole thing just tore off and flew into the air,” she told CNN affiliate WLS in Chicago. The engine was exposed. “I wanted to get off of it right away.”

The Spirit Airlines flight out of O’Hare airport, en route to Fort Lauderdale Saturday morning, made an emergency landing back at O’Hare.

“Shortly after takeoff, a passenger observed an engine cowling on the right side had left the aircraft,” said Elizabeth Cory, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We are actively investigating to confirm the specifics of what happened and the cause,” Spirit Airlines spokeswoman Misty Pinson said. “We are currently inspecting the aircraft and the right engine cowlings that were recovered on airport property.”

Passengers were booked on other flights or offered refunds.

By AnneClaire Stapleton