After fatal engine blow on Southwest flight, FAA orders more plane inspections

Posted April 22, 2018

CFM also recommended that fan blades with more than 20,000 cycles be inspected by the end of August - affecting an additional 2,500 engines. Fellow passengers pulled the woman back in and attempted to revive her.

The regulator said late on Wednesday it plans to finalize the air-worthiness directive within the next two weeks.

U.S. NTSB investigators are on scene examining damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane in this image released from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 17, 2018.

The EAD comes after a fan blade on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 snapped off mid-flight, spraying shrapnel that punctured the aircraft's fuselage causing depressurization.

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The FAA said it ordered the accelerated inspections in what is known as an airworthiness directive because metal fatigue in a fan blade "is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same design". Pieces of the plane were found in rural Pennsylvania by investigators who tracked them on radar.

Passengers described scenes of panic as a piece of shrapnel from the engine shattered a plane window, nearly sucking Riordan out.

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

It wasn't. Riordan, a bank executive from Albuquerque, New Mexico, died from her injuries. The emergency order is effective immediately and inspections must be completed within 20 days.

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Pieces of the engine including its cowling - which covers its inner workings - were found about 60 miles (100 km) from Philadelphia airport, Sumwalt said.

The manufacturer had issued two service bulletins previous year calling for additional inspections of fan blades on the CFM56-7B engines following a similar episode in 2016 on another Southwest plane.

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

The Dallas-based airline agreed with that timeline, but CFM International said it should only take 12 months.

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