Southwest offers apology, $5000 to passengers on damaged flight

21 April, 2018, 05:00 | Author: Regina Silva
  • NTSB investigators on scene examining damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane in Philadelphia

Goglia said the Boeing 737 is a safe plane but engine failures occur from time to time.

Although no cause has been ruled out, the first fatal United States airline accident since 2009 is expected to focus attention on metal fatigue in engine accidents, which are rare.

Passengers are calling the pilot of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, which staged an emergency landing Tuesday at Philadelphia International Airport, a hero.

Southwest said in its submission that the FAA's proposal would force the carrier to inspect some 732 engines in one of two categories under review - much higher than the FAA's total estimate of 220 engines across the whole U.S. fleet. Southwest is in the process of gathering additional information regarding flight 1380 and will fully cooperate in an investigative process.

NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said, however, that the kind of wear seen where the missing fan blade broke off would not have been visible just by looking at the engine. The FAA said on Wednesday that the directive - expected to be issued within the next two weeks - will require an ultrasonic inspection of fan blades when they have accrued a certain number of takeoffs and landings. The FAA proposed to make CFM's recommendation mandatory in August but never issued a directive. CFM said in a statement that the CFM56-7B has had "an outstanding safety and reliability record" since its debut in 1997. One passenger, Jennifer Riordan, a Wells Fargo bank executive and mother of two from Albuquerque, New Mexico, died after being partially pulled out of the plane after a cabin window shattered. The airline would not answer's questions about what it had offered her family in the way of compensation on Friday morning.

George Hamlin, a transportation consultant based in Fairfax, Virginia, who has worked with airlines and commercial-aviation suppliers, said that although he's not sure "nonphysical injury" would be covered under that scenario, Southwest's reputation suggests the company will go to some lengths to appease people who were on the flight. Part of a fan blade had separated from the engine, and inspectors found evidence of a crack in the fan blade, which they said was consistent with metal fatigue. So were the three flight attendants who ensured the safety of passengers after the plane depressurized and sought treatment for a fatally injured passenger, he said.

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Federal investigators were still trying to determine how a window came out of the plane. Sumwalt said the crack was not detectable from the outside.

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

Flying faster also got them on the ground sooner, knowing they had plenty of room to land on Philadelphia's 10,000 foot runway, he said.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said there were no problems with the plane or its engine when it was inspected on Sunday. The NTSB said a fan blade had broken off, apparently because of metal fatigue. He said the airline hires GE to do heavy overhaul or maintenance work on all of its engines.

The plane tilted 41 degrees into a left turn, which is about twice as steep as a typical airline turn, Sumwalt said.


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