FAA orders emergency inspection of fan blades after Southwest failure

Mae Love
April 22, 2018

The General Electric-Safran joint venture that made the plane engine that exploded during a fatal accident on a Southwest Airlines flight will issue new inspection guidelines for carriers that use the engines, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The directive comes after the left engine of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 suddenly blew apart during a Tuesday flight from NY to Dallas.

Federal safety investigators have said the naked eye can not detect the cracks and signs of metal fatigue that doomed the engine on Southwest Flight 1380. About 20 minutes into the flight, at about 32,500 feet, a fan blade broke off the engine and shrapnel shattered a window.

The agency said the directive affects 352 engines on new-generation Boeing 737s, a twin-engine jet that is a workhorse of the aviation industry, used by airlines around the world.

Southwest crews were inspecting similar engines the airline had in service, focusing on the 400 to 600 oldest of the CFM56 engines, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The woman who died was sitting over the wing on the Boeing 737 when the engine failed and she was partially sucked out a broken window.

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It is not clear how many takeoff-and-landing cycles the engine in Tuesday's accident had gone through and whether it would have been covered by the FAA directive. He also said the FAA did not move quickly enough to require inspections after a punctured Southwest 737 was forced to make an emergency landing in 2016 in Florida because of an engine failure caused by metal fatigue.

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

Videos posted on social media showed passengers grabbing for oxygen masks and screaming as the plane, piloted by Tammie Jo Shults, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, prepared for the descent into Philadelphia.

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

CFM issued a new service bulletin to operators of the engines, it said in a press release Friday.

The manufacturer told CNN it has been working with the FAA on the inspection procedures.

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