Inspections Find Cracked Engine Blades on Other Carriers After Flight 1380
When news broke that the fatality on Southwest Flight 1380 was due to a weathered engine blade striking 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan's cabin window, shifting air pressure and partially pulling her outside of the window, there was a change in the way some consumers felt about onboard safety.
Now, after an inspection revealed beat-up engine blades acoss other airline fleets, General Electric — one of the two companies that owns the engine manufacturer — is calling for more frequent check ups. The company is considering nearly doubling the frequency of inspections from every 3,000 flights to every 1,600 to 1,800 flights, and Southwest is specifically opting for inspections every 1,600 flights.
A spokesman for GE says that "a handful" of cracked engine blades — "maybe four or five" out of about 150,000 that were inspected — have been removed altogether.
The Seattle Times rounded up a statement from GE spokesman Rick Kennedy that said the inspections "focused on blades from engines that had made a high number of flights and were considered at greater risk of metal fatigue — the formation of invisible cracks from wear." Kennedy also relayed that, "In the 21 years since the CFM56-7B engine went into service there have been only two incidents in which a fan blade broke."
The findings will now be investigated and addressed by the National Transportation Safety Board, which will make a decision on future safety precautions involving the blades. A hearing for the incident will occur on November 14, 2018.
There are many precautions that contribute to in-flight safety, some of which are put in place only after tragic events like what happened on flight 1380. Hopefully the investigation around this specific case can help preemptively identify potentially malfunctioning blades before future accidents occur.
H/T: Seattle Times