November 19, 2019 / 11:03 AM / 18 days ago

U.S. safety board to meet on Southwest engine failure that caused fatal accident

WASHINGTON, Nov 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will meet on Tuesday to determine the probable cause of the April 2018 engine failure of Southwest Airlines Co flight 1380 that killed a passenger who was partially sucked out the window.

Jennifer Riordan of New Mexico, a 43-year-old Wells Fargo vice president and mother of two, was killed after the engine exploded and shattered a plane window. She was the first person killed in a U.S. passenger airline accident since 2009.

The accident occurred 20 minutes into the flight when a fan blade failed on a Boeing 737-700 jet powered by two CFM International CFM56-7B engines after taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The plane, bound for Dallas, diverted to Philadelphia International Airport. Eight of the 144 passengers suffered minor injuries.

Tammie Jo Shults, the flight’s captain, recounted in her book “Nerves of Steel,” published last month, that the engine’s explosion felt “like we’ve been T-boned by a Mack truck.” She said that the 737-700 rolled to the left and pulled into a dive but that she and the co-pilot were able to level off the plane.

The engine on the plane’s left side spewed bits of metal when it blew apart, shattering a window and causing rapid cabin depressurization, the NTSB said. In 2018, the NTSB said two passengers eventually pulled Riordan, who was buckled into her seat, back inside the plane.

In November 2018, the NTSB held an investigative hearing into that disclosed the flight crew initially had difficulty reaching flight attendants after the engine failed and did not immediately learn a passenger had been injured.

Southwest said in a statement ahead of the hearing it appreciated the work of the NTSB “and each of the parties working to determine the probable cause of the accident. We all have the same goals: to share facts, learn what happened, and prevent this type of event from ever happening again.”

CFM International is a transatlantic joint venture between General Electric Co and France’s Safran SA. (Reporting by David Shepardson. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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