Woman sucked out of plane: Hundreds of emergency jet engine inspections ordered

Woman sucked out of plane: Hundreds of emergency jet engine inspections ordered

The FAA mandate requires all airlines to inspect fan blades on certain CFM56-7B engines, the engines that are used on the workhorse Boeing 737 flown by virtually all airlines.

According to CFM International, about 680 engines will be impacted by the order to inspect engines with more than 30,000 cycles within the next 20 days. The death marked first passenger fatality for the Dallas-based airline in its 47-year history.

"The inspections ordered are a sharp step-up from actions by both the European and U.S. regulators after a Southwest flight in August 2016 made a safe emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida, after a fan blade separated from the same type of engine and debris ripped a hole above the left wing". The engine, at about 32,500 ft, a buff blade broke off and smashed a window.

A spokeswoman for CFM International says the company plans to issue a service bulletin on Friday that would expand the number of engines to be checked beyond those in previous notifications.

The pilot took the Dallas-bound twin-engined Boeing 737 with 149 people aboard into a steep descent as passengers using oxygen masks that dropped from the ceiling said their prayers and braced for impact. Some 150 of the engines have already gone through the process. A cycle includes an engine start, takeoff, landing and shutdown.

The coordinated 20-day measure partially resolves a gap in previous responses to the 2016 accident by the world's two largest and most influential aviation regulators, a person familiar with the discussions said and published documents show. "Also, it recommends inspections by the end of August for fan blades with 20,000 cycles, and inspections to all other fan blades when they reach 20,000 cycles". In that earlier case, a fan blade fractured and broke loose, bouncing in front of the engine's protective cover and then striking the plane, causing it to lose pressure.

Jennifer Riordan, 43 and a mother of two, was sucked out of the broken window and pulled back inside by fellow passengers. She died from blunt force trauma at a hospital.

"The inspection, conducted on-wing with an ultrasonic probe along the surface of the fan blade, takes about four hours per engine", the manufacturer said.

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