A passenger has died after being injured when the port engine of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 exploded in flight on April 17.
Statements made by other travellers onboard Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 said the woman who died was partially sucked out of her cabin window after it was shattered by debris from the damaged engine. Other passengers pulled the injured lady back inside the cabin.
The jet, flying from New York LaGuardia to Dallas Love Field with 143 passengers and five crew, made an emergency landing at Philadelphia after a window, wings and fuselage were damaged. Seven passengers were reported to have been injured.
NBC News released a tape recording of the conversation between Flight 1380’s captain, Tammie Jo Shults, and air traffic control, in which the pilot can be heard saying: “We have a part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” When the air traffic controller asked if the aircraft was on fire she said no but added: “They said there is a hole, and someone went out.”
The aircraft landed safely at about 11:20am Eastern Daylight Time.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said a preliminary investigation had shown that an engine fan blade was missing from the port CM56 engine and there was evidence of metal fatigue at the point where it had apparently broken off.
NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said part of the engine’s cowling was found in Bernville, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles (112km) from Philadelphia.
“It is very unusual, so we are taking this event extremely seriously,” he said, noting that the investigation could take 12 to 15 months.
The airline said it was “devastated” and expressed its sympathy to all affected by the “tragic event”. It explained that it was accelerating its inspection programme for CFM56 engines “out of an abundance of caution” and estimated checks would be completed over the next 30 days.