Southwest Airline Engine Failure

Samridhi Sharma - 3A Chemical Engineering
Posted on: May 19, 2018

On Tuesday, April 17th, 2018 as Southwest Flight 1380 embarked on its usual route from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Dallas Love Field carrying 144 passengers, little was it known that the flight would turn out to be anything but ordinary. 20 minutes into the flight, at an altitude of about 32,500 feet a passenger was reported to have heard an engine exploding followed by a shard of the engine hitting a window of the Boeing 737 plane. The plane had just been inspected on Sunday.

Amidst loud sirens and dropping oxygen masks, a few passengers displayed heroic acts by going to the rescue of the one passenger, Jennifer Riordan, who had been sucked out of the broken plane window. A nurse, a fellow passenger performed CPR on the injured woman as the plane rushed to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Riordan did not survive the trauma and seven others were injured due to the engine fragment hitting the fuselage.

Several passengers were reported to have rushed to buy in flight internet to reach their loved ones for a final word. People recorded their horrific experience to document the mayhem around. As the airplane prepared to land, “Brace for Landing!” announcements filled the cabin and passengers applauded, hugged and cherished the relief of having safely made it to the ground.

The plane was flown by Capt. Tammie Jo Shultz, a Navy veteran. She was one of the first few female fighter pilots around 30 years ago. She has been lauded for keeping calm through the crisis and landing the aircraft smoothly despite the engine failure. The pilot radioed the status of the emergency to ground control at Philadelphia International Airport as the passengers connected to their loved ones.

Upon initial investigation of the airplane, one of the 24 fan blades of the engine was found missing. Full investigation will take anywhere from 12 to 15 months to complete. The engine cowling (covering of an  engine) was found about 70 miles away from the place of landing. Usually, if the engine fails, it is designed to stay within the cowling. In this case, however, the engine blade seemed to have pierced through the cowling characterizing this engine failure as uncontained.

This case bears great resemblance to a previous engine failure on a Southwest Airlines flight in August 2016. No one was injured on that flight and the airplane was able to land safely.  However, both flights faced an uncontained engine failure in the left wing and both engines were CFM56 turbofans which failed when one of the fan blades broke mid-flight.

There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a Comment