Rattle on Spirit flight from Las Vegas sparks investigation

OAKLAND, Calif. — Federal aviation authorities are investigating two mechanical malfunctions on a Spirit Airlines aircraft that they describe as separate and unrelated incidents.

The Bay Area News Group reported Saturday that the low-cost carrier grounded an Airbus A321 after a Feb. 4 midair engine rattle that prompted the pilot to return to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

Josh Puga, who was on the plane headed to Oakland, California, told the news group that his flight started shaking violently, sending passengers and crew into a panic.

Puga was even more upset to learn that on Jan. 28, crew members on a flight from Akron, Ohio to Fort Lauderdale were sickened by fumes from an auxiliary power unit on the same aircraft.

“There were some people really scared and ruined by this,” Puga said.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said that the incidents are unrelated and involved two completely separate systems.

Stephen Schuler, spokesman for the Florida-based airline, said that in both cases, some crew members were evaluated by physicians but not hospitalized. He said no passengers reported any issues during the fume incident.

He said that in the most recent incident, crew felt a vibration in an engine and turned back as a precaution. He said the engine has been replaced.

“The safety of our guests and crew is our top priority at Spirit Airlines,” Schuler said.

The news group reports the plane completed 32 flights between the Jan. 28 incident and the Las Vegas engine trouble.

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