FAA orders fan blade inspections after Southwest engine explosion

United Airlines Flight 811 which saw 9 passengers sucked from the plane. National Transportation Safety Board  Public Domain

United Airlines Flight 811 which saw 9 passengers sucked from the plane. National Transportation Safety Board Public Domain

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday that it would order inspections on engine fan blades like the one that snapped off the Southwest plane and triggered the accident, a year after the manufacturer made a similar recommendation.

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 takeoffs.

Southwest made the comments a year ago after USA regulators proposed making the inspections mandatory.

"The affected engine count for the fleet in costs of compliance. appears to be vastly understated", it said.

The two-year-old incident was revealed following Tuesday's deadly incident that killed a mother of two aboard a Southwest flight.

Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 was forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday after suffering major engine failure.

Despite her success in the corporate world, Jennifer Riordan remained the kind of woman who made her own greeting cards for important occasions, Marianne Riordan marveled.

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She is the first passenger on a US airliner to die in an accident since 2009.

The incident comes one day after one of the engines exploded on another Southwest flight traveling from NY to Dallas.

He says he was just settling in and dozing off on the flight when he heard a loud boom and says the oxygen masks dropped. She also walked through the aisle and talked with passengers to ensure they were OK after the aircraft touched down.

Witnesses say Riordan's body was half out the window, and McGinty was struggling to pull her back into the plane. The two of them began administering CPR for about 20 minutes, until the plane landed. Needum declined to detail the event. She loved her family tremendously. "They said there's a hole and that someone went out".

Federal investigators are still trying to determine how the window came out of the plane. And what was most dire was a female passenger being sucked into the hole where the window had been.

Fellow passengers were able to pull her back inside but she died of her injuries later on Tuesday.

That led manufacturer CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and France's Safran SA, to recommend last June that airlines conduct the inspections of fan blades on many Boeing 737s.

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It is something the FAA proposed making mandatory almost a year ago, but the draft directive was never approved. That incident prompted the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to propose previous year that similar fan blades undergo ultrasonic inspections and be replaced if they failed. Blades that fail inspection would need to be replaced.

Now audio has emerged of the conversation between the plane's pilot and air traffic control; and the composure of the pilot during what had to be one of the most frightening things a person has ever had to endure is nothing short of astounding. There was also a covering over the engine. That number could be higher now because more engines have hit the number of flights triggering an inspection.

American Airlines has about 300 planes with that type of engine, and Delta has about 185.

Southwest said April 18 it had inspected "more than half" of its 737-700/800 aircraft.

Tuesday's emergency broke a string of eight straight years without a fatal accident involving a US airliner.

"A piece of the engine's cover was ripped off, coming down 75 miles from the Philadelphia Airport", said NTSB chair and former 737 pilot Robert Sumwalt.

After the plane's engine blew out, it tilted about 40 degrees to the left.

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