Delta investigates panel falling from plane during flight

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is investigating an incident over Denmark in which a panel fell off a plane toward the end of a flight.

The flight, Delta 118 from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, was flying in for arrival at Copenhagen Airport on the morning of Nov. 20 when a hydraulic access panel came off of the aircraft, said Delta spokesman Anthony Black.

The hydraulic access panel is a small door on the underside of the aircraft to access avionics and equipment in the wing, and is roughly 2.5 feet-by-2.5 feet, Black said.

The seven crew members and 161 passengers on the Boeing 757 were not aware of what happened, and the plane landed normally at the airport and taxied to the gate under its own power, Black said.

No one on the ground was hurt and nothing was damaged by the falling door, Black said.

Upon inspection, the aircraft was held for repair, then flown back to the United States for additional investigation and repair. The plane is now back in service, Black said.

"An event such as that event is incredibly rare," Black said. "Everything about the event is under investigation."

He said pilots and line maintenance do a walk-around inspection of the aircraft before flights, "so had they noticed anything unusual about the aircraft they would have flagged that." However, the incident occurred toward the end of the flight, and it's unclear what may have caused the door to fall off.