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Engine manufacturer, FAA call for immediate inspections after Southwest Airlines fatality

21 April 2018

Airlines said that because fan blades may have been repaired and moved to other engines, the order would affect far more than 220 of the CFM56-7Bs, which are made by a partnership of France's Safran and General Electric.

On Wednesday, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Robert Sumwalt, the chief investigator of United States aviation accidents, said he could not yet say if the incident pointed to a fleet-wide issue. That directive was anticipated to impact 220 engines, although in a comment responding to the FAA proposal Southwest said the number of engines that would need to be tested was well beyond that number, because it didn't track the wear on the individual fan blades in engines.

In the past two years, two Southwest Airlines 737s have had major engine failures that seemed to be the result of metal fatigue, according to evidence compiled by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Around 60 airlines use the CFM56-7B, according to the company, which said GE and Safran have mobilized some 500 technicians "to support customers and minimize operational disruptions" related to the inspections.

An FAA spokesman said the agency disputed that it had not agreed with European regulators on the response to the engine issue. It also states the order does not apply to engines that have already undergone testing since CFM issued its first recommendation to conduct ultrasonic inspections in March 2017.

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Debris ripped a hole more than a foot long in the fuselage of the jet above the left wing, causing cabin decompression.

Who was the victim?

The window where Jennifer Riordan died after it was hit by shrapnel that smashed a window, causing her to be partially sucked out.

Shrapnel from the shredded engine smashed the window next to her causing rapid decompression in the cabin that almost blasted her out of the jet.

Photo Federal investigators in Philadelphia examined damage to the turbofan engine on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 that failed on Tuesday, leading a passenger's death. Seven others suffered minor injuries.

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How did the drama unfold?

For a few seconds, the aircraft rolled to an angle of 41 degrees before levelling out and starting an emergency descent, federal investigators said on Wednesday.

"Injured passengers, okay, and is your airplane physically on fire?" asks a male voice in the tower, according to a recording released by officials.

"It happens that there are disagreements about the right way to go in some cases, and this was one of them", the person familiar with the discussions said.

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Engine manufacturer, FAA call for immediate inspections after Southwest Airlines fatality