A Southwest Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing last week due to engine failure. National Transportation Safety Board investigators believe that the engine failed when an engine fan blade broke mid flight, resulting in one passenger death. Southwest Flight 1380 took off from LaGuardia Airport and was headed to Dallas before the engine blew apart over Pennsylvania. The engine, a CFM56-7B turbofan, is one of the most popular engines in the world and is used on both commercial and military aircrafts. It is a product of a joint venture among GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines named CFM International. Southwest Airlines has a fleet of over 710 Boeing 737s which use the same engine.
The Federal Aviation Administration is trying to finalize a directive to require ultrasonic inspections which will find microscopic cracks in aircraft engines and their blades. The directive will require all CFM56-7B engines with accrued airtime to be inspected within 6 months. Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said that they would be inspecting all of the fan blades for any cracking due to metal fatigue.
Aviation lawyers predict that stress claims can be expected from the passengers and crew that witnessed the horrific event aboard the flight. Even if no physical injury occurred, many will experience post-traumatic stress disorder. There were 149 passengers on board Flight 1380 out of LaGuardia Airport. Southwest Airlines confirmed that they have sent $5,000 checks along with $1,000 travel vouchers to each of the passengers. Litigation experts say that Southwest can expect claims from most, if not all, who were aboard Flight 1380.
A memorial service was held on Sunday for Jennifer Riordan, the passenger who passed away on Flight 1380. Riordan, a mother of two, was vice president of community relations for Wells Fargo’s New Mexico operations. She was aboard Flight 1380 headed back home from a work trip.