NTSB Looking at 'Metal Fatigue' as Possible Cause in Deadly Plane Blown Engine Landing - NBC 10 Philadelphia

NTSB Looking at 'Metal Fatigue' as Possible Cause in Deadly Plane Blown Engine Landing

A piece of the engine covering was later found in Bernville, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles west of Philadelphia

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NTSB Officials Speak on Deadly Mid-Air Flight Emergency

    National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt revealed the latest information on a Southwest flight engine failure that led to the death of a woman and an emergency landing at Philly International Airport.

    (Published Tuesday, April 17, 2018)

    What to Know

    • The National Transportation Safety Board says a woman was killed after a plane with engine failure made an emergency landing in Philly

    • NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said that there is evidence of what he called "metal fatigue" on the plane

    • Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in Dallas that there were no problems with the plane or its engine when it was inspected on Sunday

    A preliminary examination of the blown jet engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that set off a terrifying chain of events and left a businesswoman hanging half outside a shattered window showed evidence of "metal fatigue," according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

    Passengers scrambled to save the woman from getting sucked out the window that had been smashed by debris. She later died, and seven others were injured.

    The pilots of the twin-engine Boeing 737 bound from New York to Dallas with 149 people aboard took it into a rapid descent Tuesday and made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling and passengers said their prayers and braced for impact.

    Photos: Southwest Flight Lands at PHL After Engine BlowsPhotos: Southwest Flight Lands at PHL After Engine Blows

    "I just remember holding my husband's hand, and we just prayed and prayed and prayed," said passenger Amanda Bourman, of New York.

    The dead woman was identified as Jennifer Riordan, a Wells Fargo bank executive and mother of two from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The seven other victims suffered minor injuries.

    The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team of investigators to Philadelphia.

    In a late night news conference, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said one of the engine's fan blades was separated and missing. The blade was separated at the point where it would come into the hub and there was evidence of metal fatigue, Sumwalt said.

    Plane Involved in Mid-Air Engine Failure Was Inspected 2 Days EarlierPlane Involved in Mid-Air Engine Failure Was Inspected 2 Days Earlier

    Damaged metal may have played a role in the engine explosion. The NTSB is conducting its investigation into Southwest flight 1380 to find out details about what happened. One passenger died after a window broke.

    (Published Wednesday, April 18, 2018)

    The engine will be examined further to understand what caused the failure. The investigation is expected to take 12 to 15 months.

    Photos of the plane on the tarmac showed a missing window and a chunk gone from the left engine, including part of its cover. A piece of the engine covering was later found in Bernville, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles west of Philadelphia in Berks County, Sumwalt said.

    ‘We Have Part of the Aircraft Missing’: Pilot to Air Control‘We Have Part of the Aircraft Missing’: Pilot to Air Control

    Listen to the communications between the pilot of Southwest Flight 1380 and Air Traffic Control at Philadelphia International Airport as the plane came in for an emergency landing.

    (Published Tuesday, April 17, 2018)

    As a precaution, Southwest said Tuesday night that it would inspect similar engines in its fleet over the next 30 days.

    Passengers praised one of the pilots, Tammie Jo Shults, for her cool-headed handling of the emergency. The former Navy pilot was at the controls when the plane made the emergency landing. She walked through the aisle and talked with passengers to make sure they were OK after the aircraft touched down.

    "She has nerves of steel. That lady, I applaud her," said Alfred Tumlinson, of Corpus Christi, Texas. "I'm going to send her a Christmas card, I'm going to tell you that, with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground. She was awesome."

    In a recording of conversations between the cockpit and air traffic controllers, an unidentified crew member reported that there was a hole in the plane and "someone went out."

    Expert on 2-Part Emergency on Southwest FlightExpert on 2-Part Emergency on Southwest Flight

    Flight expert Arthur Wolk explains some of the factors that made the landing of Southwest 1380 more difficult than normal engine failure.

    (Published Wednesday, April 18, 2018)

    Tumlinson said a man in a cowboy hat rushed forward a few rows to grab the woman and pull her back in.

    "She was out of the plane. He couldn't do it by himself, so another gentleman came over and helped to get her back in the plane, and they got her," he said.

    Passengers struggled to somehow plug the hole while giving the badly injured woman CPR.

    As the plane came in for a landing, everyone started yelling to brace for impact, then clapped after the aircraft touched down safely, Bourman said.

    Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said there were no problems with the plane or its engine when it was inspected on Sunday.

    The jet's CFM56-7B engines were made by CFM International, jointly owned by General Electric and Safran Aircraft Engines of France. CFM said in a statement that the CFM56-7B has had "an outstanding safety and reliability record" since its debut in 1997.

    Investigation Into Mid-Air ExplosionInvestigation Into Mid-Air Explosion

    The Southwest flight that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia was moved from the tarmac at Philadelphia International Airport early Wednesday. A New Mexico woman died after being partially sucked out of the plane.

    (Published Wednesday, April 18, 2018)

    Last year, the engine maker and the Federal Aviation Administration instructed airlines to make ultrasonic inspections of the fan blades of engines like those on the Southwest jet. The FAA said the move was prompted by a report of a fan blade failing and hurling debris. A Southwest spokeswoman said the engine that failed Tuesday was not covered by that directive, but the airline announced it would speed up ultrasonic inspections of fan blades of its CFM56-series engines anyway.

    "There's a ring around the engine that is meant to contain the engine pieces when this happens," said John Goglia, a former NTSB member. "In this case it didn't. That's going to be a big focal point for the NTSB — why didn't (the ring) do its job?"

    In 2016, a Southwest Boeing 737-700 blew an engine as it flew from New Orleans to Orlando, Florida, and shrapnel tore a 5-by-16-inch hole just above the wing. The plane landed safely. The NTSB said a fan blade had broken off, apparently because of metal fatigue.