U.S. FAA order inspection of 220 jet engines after Southwest explosion

Vastavam web: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday it would order inspection of some 220 jet engines after investigators said a broken fan blade touched off an engine explosion on a Southwest Airlines flight, shattering a window and killing a passenger.The order, called an air-worthiness directive, would require an ultrasonic inspection within the next six months of the fan blades on all CFM56-7B engines that have accrued a certain number of flights.

The explosion sent shrapnel ripping into the fuselage of the Boeing 737-700 plane and shattered a window.Bank executive Jennifer Riordan, 43, was killed when she was partially pulled through a gaping hole next to her seat in row 14 as the cabin suffered rapid decompression. Fellow passengers were able to pull her back inside but she died of her injuries later on Tuesday.

Earlier on Wednesday National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt told a news conference that the incident began when one of the engine’s 24 fan blades snapped off from its hub. Sumwalt said investigators found that the blade had suffered metal fatigue at the site of the break.“We want to very carefully understand what was the result of this problem, and as I mentioned a few minutes ago, I’m very concerned about this particular event,” Sumwalt said at the news conference at the Philadelphia airport. “To be able to extrapolate that to the entire fleet, I’m not willing to do that right now.”Southwest crews were inspecting similar engines the airline had in service, focusing on the 400 to 600 oldest of the CFM56 engines, made by a partnership of France’s Safran (SAF.PA) and General Electric (GE.N), according to a person with knowledge of the situation. It was the second time that style of engine had failed on a Southwest jet in the past two years, prompting airlines around the world to step up inspections.

Sumwalt said the fan blade, after suffering metal fatigue where it attached to the engine hub, suffered a second fracture about halfway along its length. Pieces of the plane were found in rural Pennsylvania by investigators who tracked them on radar. The metal fatigue would not have been observable by looking at the engine from the outside, Sumwalt said.The jet was travelling at 190 miles per hour when it made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport, according to Sumwalt, much faster than the typical 155-mile-per-hour touchdown.

“The window had broken and the negative pressure had pulled her outside the plane partially,” Peggy Phillips, a registered nurse who was on the plane, told WFAA-TV in Dallas. “Two wonderful men … they managed to get her back inside the plane, and we laid her down and we started CPR.”