Published: Fri, April 20, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Southwest Airlines engine explosion: USA orders fan blade inspections

Southwest Airlines engine explosion: USA orders fan blade inspections

Fan blades that have undergone a certain number of flights will be given ultrasonic tests, it said.

Despite her success in the corporate world, Jennifer Riordan remained the kind of woman who made her own greeting cards for important occasions, Marianne Riordan marveled.

When investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board examined the broken engine in Philadelphia just hours after it made an emergency landing, they immediately saw that one of the left engine's 24 fan blades was missing.

Sumwalt expressed concern about such a destructive engine failure but said it was too soon to draw any conclusions about the safety of CFM56 engines or the entire fleet of Boeing 737s, the most popular airliner ever built.

Southwest made the comments previous year after USA regulators proposed making the inspections mandatory.

As a precaution, Southwest said it will inspect similar engines in its fleet over the next 30 days.

A "fatigue crack" in one of the blown engine's fan blades is believed to be the cause of the incident but it is now under investigation. "It also fractured roughly halfway through, but it appears the fatigue fracture was the initiating event that later caused that secondary failure", he told reporters.

"A piece of the engine's cover was ripped off, coming down 75 miles from the Philadelphia Airport", said NTSB chair and former 737 pilot Robert Sumwalt.

Although the FAA said the directive would apply to about 220 engines, airlines said that because fan blades may have been repaired and relocated, it would affect a far greater number.

What do we know about the engines?

Technical experts from Boeing, which makes the 737 jetliner involved in the incident, and engine maker CFM International, a venture of General Electric Co. and France's Safran SA, are gathering clues about what caused the accident.

American Airlines has about 300 planes with that type of engine, and Delta Air Lines has about 185. "Just save us from this, '" said Timothy C Bourman, 36, a pastor from Queens who was on his way to a church retreat in San Antonio.

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A registered nurse and emergency medical technician on board jumped in to try to save the gravely injured woman.

Who was the victim?

Riordan was partially sucked out of the shattered window, but fellow passengers rescued her. A gust of shrapnel blew out a window, partly sucking one passenger in Row 14 headfirst into the sky.

A passenger on the flight says he was part of a group that tried to save her.

One passenger, Jennifer Riordan, died as a result of the incident.

Passenger Andrew Needum, a Texas firefighter, said Thursday that he was helping his family and other passengers with their oxygen masks when he heard a commotion behind him.

Tuesday's emergency broke a string of eight straight years without a fatal accident involving a USA airliner.

Passengers praised one of the pilots, Tammie Jo Shults, for her cool-headed handling of the emergency.

"We've confirmed flight 577 departing Nashville (BNA) experienced a bird strike shortly after takeoff", the airline said in a statement to CBS News. "Our hearts are heavy", the pair said.

They said they were working with investigators and would not be talking to the media. "You have to get in with an ultrasound, the same technology you look at a baby", Ganyard said.

Kathy Farnan, 77-year-old from Santa Fe, New Mexico, said people seated near her in the front, away from the damage, remained relatively calm.

Whatever happened inside that complicated system of fuel and fire and whirling components, it resulted in the decompression of the cabin at about 32,000 feet and, later, the death of a passenger after she almost flew out a window.

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