Regulators To Require Inspections After Jet Engine Explosion

Marco Green
April 21, 2018

Following the engine incident involving a Southwest 737-700 that resulted in the death of one passenger, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced they would be ordering the inspections of engine fan blades of certain CFM56-7B engines.

The engine on a Southwest Airlines plane blew apart on Tuesday. The blast broke a window, depressurized the cabin, sent debris flying and sucked one woman partially out of the plane as the pilot quickly landed the aircraft.

Riordan died after her fellow passengers pulled her back in and performed CPR for roughly 20 minutes.

.

The Dallas-based carrier was not the only operator to ask for more time or suggest other changes as first the engine maker, CFM International, and then the FAA and its European counterpart proposed checks previous year for potentially flawed fan blades. CFM said in a statement that the CFM56-7B has had "an outstanding safety and reliability record" since its debut in 1997.

One of the blown left engine's 24 fan blades is still missing, and it may have come off as the jet moved at roughly 500 miles per hour.

The FAA's proposed rule was never put into effect, said Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general with the Department of Transportation, which oversees the FAA, and it's unclear whether Southwest ever began the inspections based on the FAA proposal.

Late yesterday, Southwest Airlines Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly explained the airline's maintenance procedures in a 59-second video posted to Twitter.

This, however, is not the first time Southwest has had issues regarding this specific type of engine.

The airline on Tuesday evening said it would conduct accelerated ultrasonic inspections of the fan blades on CFM56 engines within the next 30 days.

"Jennifer's vibrancy, passion, and love infused our community and reached across our country", her family said. But investigators have not yet determined the exact cause.

Passengers dragged Riordan back into the cabin but she died at a Philadelphia hospital after the plane made an emergency landing.

The people who were sending "videos to their families, saying, 'These are my last words to you, ' which is something that did occur in this incident, that kind of person will live with that for the rest of their life", he said. They also got a $1,000 voucher for travel on Southwest.

A National Transportation Safety Board crew did a preliminary scan of the plane and found signs of "metal fatigue", which are tiny cracks that can eventually can cause a catastrophe.

The blades, which sweep air backwards to help provide thrust, can be changed and repaired independently of the rest of the engine, meaning airlines that do not keep tabs have to examine more engines than anticipated, which adds time and cost.

Kelly said the plane was inspected on Sunday and nothing appeared out of order.

So-called D checks are done roughly every six years for older planes, less frequently for newer ones. The blade was separated at the point where it would come into the hub and there was evidence of metal fatigue, Sumwalt said. It can take weeks and involves taking apart much of the plane for inspection and possible fix or replacement of parts, then putting it back together.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER