Southwest passengers on flight with deadly engine failure get money, travel vouchers

Marco Green
April 21, 2018

The order, which it initially proposed in August following an incident in 2016, will require ultrasonic inspection within the next six months of the fan blades on all CFM56-7B engines that have accrued a certain number of takeoffs. Many of the Customers on that flight have flown with us before. Other airlines also voiced objections.

The incident compelled the Federal Aviation Administration to propose inspections of similar fan blades and replacements. It will not be clear until the FAA issues its rule how many will need inspections.

The plane, a Boeing 737 bound from NY to Dallas with 149 people aboard, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. Media reports said the victim, identified as 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan, a bank executive and mother of two from Albuquerque, was partially sucked out after the window smashed open. She died later from her injuries.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator examines damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport. "We believe there were parts coming out of the engine", Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told a news conference, confirming engine failure but no fire.

That incident led manufacturer CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and France's Safran SA, to recommend in June 2017 that airlines conduct ultrasonic inspections of fan blades on many Boeing 737s. Others more recently serviced will require inspections within 18 months, the FAA draft order said.

Sumwalt said the fan blade, after suffering metal fatigue where it attached to the engine hub, has a second fracture about halfway along its length. He further said, "There need to be proper inspection mechanisms in place to check for this before there's a catastrophic event".

The damaged engine on the Southwest Airlines plane being inspected at Philadelphia International Airport.

She had no way of knowing that she was sitting in the most risky row of that plane. The metal fatigue would not have been observable by looking at the engine from the outside, Sumwalt said.

While recommendations from airplane and engine manufacturers like CFM are not mandatory - only regulators can force airlines to act - the carriers often follow the recommendations to reduce their liability in case of accidents.

"The public should be anxious (because) a manufacturer sent out a warning, and Southwest and others didn't do it", said Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general of the Transportation Department, FAA's parent agency. "I can't imagine what they're going through". In a letter obtained by ABC News to one of the passengers and signed by chairman and CEO Gary Kelly, Southwest says, "On behalf of the entire Southwest Airlines Family, please accept our honest apologies for the circumstances surrounding Flight 1380 on Tuesday morning, April 17th". One fix shop said new blades cost $50,000 each while overhauled ones are less than $30,000.

Last year, the FAA estimated that an order would cover 220 engines on USA airlines.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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