Preliminary NTSB Investigation Finds Southwest Engine Showed 'Metal Fatigue'
The preliminary findings from the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation of Tuesday's deadly Southwest flight found that the engine showed evidence of "metal fatigue."
In a late Tuesday news conference, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said that one of the engine's fan blades was separated and missing. Sumwalt said that the blade was separated at the point of the engine where it would come into the hub, as well as showing evidence of metal fatigue.
The left engine of the Boeing 737-700, which took off from New York (LGA) for Dallas (DAL), blew out minutes after taking off. The pilots took the aircraft into a rapid descent before landing Flight 1380 at Philadelphia (PHL). A piece of the engine covering was later found about 70 miles west of Philadelphia in Bernville, Pennsylvania.
The NTSB sent a team of investigators to Philadelphia to further examine the engine. The AP reports that the engine will continue to be examined, and the complete investigation is expected to take 12 to 15 months. As a precaution, Southwest said that it would inspect similar engines in its fleet over the course of the next 30 days.
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said that when the aircraft was inspected on Sunday, there were no problems with the plane or its engine.
Tuesday's terrifying chain of events left one passenger, Jennifer Riordan, dead from injuries sustianed after shrapnel from the engine shattered a window and partially sucked her out. Seven other passengers were injured.