Published: Sun, April 22, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

FAA orders jet engine inspections after fatal Southwest incident

FAA orders jet engine inspections after fatal Southwest incident

Bank executive Jennifer Riordan died after being sucked half-out of a U.S. passenger jet flying at 32,000 feet when shrapnel from a blown engine smashed a cabin window.

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

For photos and b-roll of the Southwest's ongoing ultrasonic inspections of CFM engine fan blades on our Next Generation Fleet, we invite media to visit for stills and video of our ongoing inspection process.

CFM, jointly owned by General Electric and France's Safran, also recommended inspections by the end of August for fan blades with 20,000 cycles, and inspections of all other fan blades when they reach 20,000 cycles. It was the second time this kind of engine had failed on a Southwest jet in the past two years, prompting airlines around the world to step up inspections. The emergency order is effective immediately and inspections must be completed within 20 days.

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The FAA said: "Fan blade failure due to cracking could result in an engine in-flight shutdown, uncontained release of debris and possible airplane decompression".

Passengers described scenes of panic as a piece of shrapnel from the engine shattered a plane window, nearly sucking Riordan out. The plane, flying from NY, landed safely in Philadelphia.

The order would have required an inspection on the engine that failed on Tuesday, said the person familiar with the action, who wasn't authorised to speak about it. CFM had previously recommended airlines first inspect engines with 15,000 flights or more, but the engine involved in Tuesday's failure only had 10,000 since its last overhaul and would not have immediately been checked. She later died at a hospital.

More than 150 have already been inspected. Inspections take between two and four hours per engine, according to the FAA and manufacturer. It was the first fatal incident on a Southwest plane in the company's almost 50-year history.

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