Deadly emergency plane landing leads to order for mandatory inspections

This April 17, 2018 photo provided by Marty Martinez shows the window that was shattered after a jet engine of a Southwest Airlines airplane blew out at altitude, resulting in the death of a woman who was almost sucked from the window during the flight of the Boeing 737 bound from NY to Dallas with 149 people aboard, shown after it made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

Forty-three-year-old banking executive Jennifer Riordan of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was fatally injured when she was sucked partway out of the jet through a shattered window.

#FAA Statement (1/4): The FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) https://t.co/NTqXpA3PY4 that requires operators to inspect fan blades on certain CFM56-7B engines within 20 days.

The guidelines from the manufacturer, CFM International, call for ultrasonic inspections - which can detect flaws or cracks not visible to the unaided human eye - within the next 20 days to fan blades on engines with more than 30,000 cycles. The jet, which was headed from NY to Dallas, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. Southwest became the nation's largest domestic air carrier in 2003 and maintains that ranking based on the U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent reporting of domestic originating passengers boarded. Each aircraft has two engines.

Fellow passengers grabbed Ms Riordan, 43, and dragged her back into the plane, then tried to plug the hole after the sudden loss of cabin pressure.

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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.

A preliminary examination of the blown jet engine showed evidence of "metal fatigue", said USA transport officials.

The FAA had proposed inspections last August and was going through the complicated rule-making process to get an order in place.

CFM International, a joint venture between America's GE Aviation and France's Safran Aircraft Engines, said around 150 of the engines have already been examined.

  • Rita Burton