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Tuesday, December 01, 2020

US airplane engine explodes mid-air: How 20 minutes of sheer terror played out onboard Southwest airlines

The plane was on its way from New York La Guardia airport to Dalla Love Field but was diverted to Philadelphia International Airport.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 19, 2018 7:09:21 pm
Southwest airlines plane explodes midair: passengers recount details A National Transportation Safety Board investigator examines damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia. (Source: Screengrab from video/AP)

A Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 on Tuesday made an emergency landing in Philadelphia after a broken fan blade touched off an engine leading to an explosion which shattered a window of the aircraft. A decompression was created which almost sucked out a passenger, who was pulled out by fellow travellers but later succumbed to injuries. The plane was on its way from New York La Guardia airport to Dalla Love Field but was diverted to Philadelphia International Airport.

The passengers described the scene of panic as the plane window was shattered by a shrapnel which flew out of the engine. The Guardian has quoted the passengers as saying: “The window had broken and the negative pressure had pulled Riordan outside the plane partially,” Peggy Phillips told WFAA-TV in Dallas. “Two wonderful men … they managed to get her back inside the plane, and we laid her down and we started CPR.”

One of the passengers Marty Martinez told ABC’s Good Morning America that all he could think of was that it was his final few minutes and he wanted to communicate with his family. So he logged into the plane’s WiFi to send his family a ‘final message’. “I thought, these are my last few moments on Earth and I want people to know what happened,” said Martinez. His video, which went viral on the social media, showed passengers screaming in horror as they reached for the oxygen masks while the plane made a bumpy descent into Philadelphia. The plane was piloted by 56-year-old Captain Tammie Jo Schults, a former US Navy fighter pilot.

This April 17, 2018 photo provided by Marty Martinez shows the jet engine casing of a Southwest Airlines airplane bound from New York to Dallas with 149 people aboard took it into a rapid descent and made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. (Source: Marty Martinez via AP)

Robert Sumwalt Chairman of National Transportation Safety Board in a news conference said that he was very concerned about this incident and wanted to ‘carefully’ understand the result of this problem. He further said that the incident was a result of one of the engines of the 24 fan blades snapping mid air resulting in the death of one passenger Jennifer Riordan, 43. The investigators found that the blade had suffered metal fatigue at the site of the break, as reported by The Guardian. Sumwalt said he could not yet say if the incident pointed to a fleet-wide problem in the Boeing 737-700.

The Southwest airlines crews were inspecting similar engines of make CFM56 which the airlines has in service, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. This is a second incident of an engine failure with the Southwest jet in the past two years, which has prompted the airlines to step up inspections around the world, Reuters reported.

The airlines’ investigation could take 12 to 15 months to complete.

Meanwhile, the Southwest Airlines pilot was lauded as a hero in the harrowing emergency landing. It is also being hailed for her pioneering role in a career where she has been one of the few women at the controls. Tammie Jo Shults, one of the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. Navy, was the captain and piloting the Dallas-bound Flight 1380 when it made an emergency landing Tuesday in Philadelphia, according to her husband, Dean Shults.

In this photo Martinez (left) appears with other passengers after a jet engine blew out on the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 plane he was flying in from New York to Dallas, resulting in the death of a woman. (Source: Marty Martinez via AP)

Shults calmly relayed details about the crisis to air traffic controllers, and passengers commended her handling of the situation. In a statement, late Wednesday, Shults and the other pilot on board, First Officer Darren Ellisor, said they felt like they were simply doing their jobs.

“On behalf of the entire Crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss,” the two pilots said in the statement, adding that their “hearts are heavy.”

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