Missing part could be key to Southwest flight’s catastrophe
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is focusing on a missing fan blade in its investigation of a Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing Tuesday after its left engine failed. One passenger on the plane was killed in the dramatic incident, which occurred on Southwest Flight 1380 as the plane was flying from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Love Field in Dallas.
Woman sucked out of a window
News sources say the terrifying experience began when a piece of the engine shattered a window and depressurized the plane, causing oxygen masks to drop. A woman was partly sucked out of the broken window, but other passengers pulled her back in and administered CPR. There is no word on whether the fatality, identified as Jennifer Riordan of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was the woman involved in that incident. In total there were eight injuries among the 144 passengers and five crew members aboard the aircraft.
The emergency occurred about 20 minutes after takeoff when the aircraft was at 32,500 feet. With a failed engine, damaged fuselage, a fire in the cockpit and multiple alarms going off, the plane was diverted to Philadelphia International Airport after the flight crew reported damage to an engine, officials said.
Piece of plane found miles away
NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said yesterday that the No. 13 fan blade was separated and missing, and a preliminary examination indicated evidence of metal fatigue where the blade separated. There are 24 fan blades on the engine. Sumwalt said flight data recorders will be sent to Washington to be examined. He predicted that an investigation into the incident will take 12 to 15 months. Part of the challenge might be recovering parts of the plane: a piece of a Southwest engine cowling was found in Bernville, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
The airline's chief executive, Gary Kelly, said at a news conference that the plane, a Boeing 737-700, was most recently inspected on Sunday.
The in-flight death was the first in Southwest Airlines’ history.