A United Airlines flight that left the Regina International Airport bound for Chicago had to make an emergency return Thursday morning.

The Regina Airport Authority said the plane developed engine problems shortly after departure. It was forced to turn around and landed safely without incident at about 9:15 a.m. CST.

"About 20 to 30 kilometres out from the airport after departure it developed an engine problem on its left engine and decided out of caution to shut that engine down and return to the airport," Regina Airport Authority spokesperson Steve Burchi said.

Burchi said the cause of the engine problems is not yet known.

"It could be a minor issue," Burchi said. "It could be something that requires the engine to be removed and changed out. So we're really not sure."

There were 49 passengers and three crew member on the flight.

The emergency return has not led to any service disruptions at the Regina airport.