FAA orders jet engine inspections after fatal Southwest incident

Marco Green
April 22, 2018

The manufacturer of the engine that failed catastrophically on Tuesday on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 issued new guidelines on Friday that call for more frequent and more thorough inspections of its engine fan blades.

Passengers described a horrific scene, wherein a drastic drop in pressure caused Jennifer Riordan, a mother of two, to be sucked out a plane window. About 20 minutes into the flight, at about 32,500 feet, a fan blade broke off the engine and shrapnel shattered a window.

CFM, jointly owned by General Electric and France's Safran, also recommended inspections by the end of August for fan blades with 20,000 cycles, and inspections of all other fan blades when they reach 20,000 cycles.

Southwest is sending a letter of apology, a $5,000 check and a $1,000 travel voucher to passengers who were on a flight that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia following an engine explosion.

The airline expected to wrap up its inspection of the engines it was targeting in about 30 days.

The pilot took the Dallas-bound twin-engined Boeing 737 with 149 people aboard into a steep descent as passengers using oxygen masks that dropped from the ceiling said their prayers and braced for impact.

Jim Hall, NTSB chairman during the Clinton administration, said all CFM engines on 737s should be inspected. The plane, en route to Dallas from NY, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. She later died at a hospital.

Once the inspections are completed, CFM recommended to repeat the process every 3,000 cycles - about two years in airline service - but the FAA did not require such a measure. The agency announced on Wednesday it would issue those orders within weeks. More than 150 of those have already been checked, it said.

Southwest, American Airlines, Delta and Alaska Airlines all began inspections of 737 engine fan blades previous year after the 2016 Southwest incident, even though a proposed FAA requirement had not been finalised, the carriers said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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