The National Transportation Safety Board issued an update about the fatal Southwest Airlines flight where a woman died after a piece of the plane shattered a window and sucked her partially out of the aircraft. The agency's examination of a "fan blade dovetail exhibited features consistent with metal fatigue."
On April 17th, Southwest flight 1380, which departed LaGuardia Airport, experienced an engine failure on the left side. A passenger said, "Shrapnel hit the window causing a serious injury." It was a piece of the engine's blade, which flew into a window, shattering it. Sitting beside the window was Jennifer Riordan, 43, who was partly sucked out of the plane and suffered blunt impact trauma to the head.
The NTSB's update reports, "Three flight attendants were assigned to the flight, and an additional SWA employee was in a jumpseat in the cabin. During interviews, the flight attendants and the employee reported that they heard a loud sound and experienced vibration. The oxygen masks automatically deployed in the cabin. The flight attendants retrieved portable oxygen bottles and began moving through the cabin to calm passengers and assist them with their masks. As they moved toward the mid-cabin, they found the passenger in row 14 partially out of the window and attempted to pull her into the cabin. Two male passengers helped and were able to bring the passenger in."
Another passenger said, "The top half of her torso was out the window. There was a lot of blood because she was hit by some of the shrapnel coming off the engine after it exploded." After Riordan was pulled back in, others performed CPR, but she was pronounced dead after the plane landed in Philadelphia.
The crew told the NTSB that the flight was normal as they were departing, but then, "They reported experiencing a sudden change in cabin pressure, aircraft yaw, cockpit alarms, and a 'gray puff of smoke.' They donned their oxygen masks, and the first officer began a descent."
The fan blade had "accumulated more than 32,000 engine cycles since new," according to the NTSB, and had been last serviced at around the 21,000 cycle mark. Days after the incident, "On April 20, 2018, CFM International issued Service Bulletin 72-1033 applicable to CFM International CFM 56-7B-series engines recommending ultrasonic inspections of all fan blades on engines that have accumulated 20,000 engine cycles and subsequently at intervals not to exceed 3,000 engine cycles."
The NTSB is continuing its investigation. A passenger who was on the flight, three seats behind Riordan, is now suing Southwest, claiming post traumatic stress disorder and depression. Her lawyer told NPR, "This accident has crippled her will, and she is in shock over this horrible, near-death experience."
On Wednesday, Southwest Airlines from Chicago to Newark made an emergency landing after a cabin window cracked.