By Stacey Leasca
Updated: March 28, 2019

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane operated by Southwest made an emergency landing on Tuesday afternoon as it made its way to a storage facility in California.

The plane, which took off from Orlando International Airport en route to Southern California’s Logistics Airport, was forced to turn around minutes after takeoff, USA Today reported. According to FlightAware, the passenger-less flight took off at 2:47 p.m. EDT and landed back at the airport at 2:58 p.m.

According to Southwest Airlines, the aircraft returned to its originating airport after the pilots reported a “performance issue” with one of the engines.

“The crew followed protocol and safely landed back at the airport,” Southwest spokesman Dan Landson said in a statement to USA Today. Instead of heading to California, the plane will now be moved to Southwest's Orlando maintenance facility for a review, according to the airline.

Angel Di Bilio/Getty Images

It was just two weeks ago that airlines and government bodies around the globe decided to ground the entire worldwide fleet of 737 MAX 8 planes. The decision came after the second deadly crash involving the model in just five months. The first, a Lion Air flight in October of 2018, killed the 189 people on board, while the second crash, an Ethiopian Airlines flight in March of this year, killed 157.

According to Landson, Southwest has been busy finding storage facilities for its 737 MAX 8 planes. To date the airline has flown and stored two dozen Max 8s in Victorville, California from airports across the country, he said in his statement. Victorville, Australia’s News.com reported, is one of the best places on earth to store planes as they idle as the area’s dry conditions, along with the wide-open spaces, help preserve the plane’s integrity until next steps are decided.

Southwest has been moving several aircraft a day and looks to complete its storage process by the end of this week.

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