Federal Investigators Confirm Cause of Shattered Window on Deadly Southwest Flight


May 07, 2018

May 4, 2018 (marketwatch.com) Federal investigators confirmed May 4 that their initial impressions as to the cause of the shattered window aboard Southwest Flight 1380 were mostly correct. The newly released information is reported by marketwatch.com.*

Southwest Flight 1380 was destined for Dallas when it departed the La Guardia Airport April 17 but experienced an emergency situation in the air that led to the death of one passenger. Part-way through the flight, an engine fan blade broke loose, and shrapnel flew up and shattered a window on the plane. When the window broke, intense loss of cabin pressure sucked passenger Jennifer Riordan partly out of the window. Other passengers rushed to pull her back in, but she had sustained severe blunt trauma and died from her injuries. She was a mother and Wells Fargo executive from New Mexico. Riordan was Southwest’s first in-flight fatality. 

During their initial review of the incident, federal investigators suspected the fan blade broke away because of metal fatigue and that either the blade itself or other shrapnel, including the engine cowling, pierced the window. The cowling was recovered about 70 miles outside of Philadelphia, where the plane made its emergency landing. 

On May 4, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that the broken fan blade showed cracks consistent with metal fatigue. The blade broke off at the root and sparked a chain of events that left the cowling, left wing, left horizontal stabilizer, and fuselage significantly damaged, according to NTSB. NTSB indicates the cowling flew up and pierced the plane window.  

Southwest reported the company has inspected 25,000 engine fan blades since the deadly flight and has found one additional blade that showed signs of cracking.  

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Category: Accident Blog

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