Southwest Airlines cancels about 40 flights for engine inspections

PHOTO: Reuters

Southwest Airlines Co said it cancelled about 40 flights on Sunday, or 1 per cent of those scheduled, as it inspects engines after last week's deadly accident in Pennsylvania.

The airline said the cancellations were the result of the company's announcement on Tuesday that it would over the next 30 days begin inspecting other CFM56-7B engines, manufactured by CFM International, the engine involved in last week's accident.

At the time, Southwest said those inspections would cause some impact on operations, but it has not said how many engines it planned to inspect.

On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration and European airline regulators ordered emergency inspections within 20 days of nearly 700 aircraft engines similar to the one involved in a fatal Southwest engine blowout earlier this week.

The engine explosion on Southwest Flight 1380 on Tuesday was caused by a fan blade that broke off, the FAA said. The blast shattered a window, killing a passenger, in the first US passenger airline fatality since 2009.

Southwest has declined to answer questions about its CFM56-7B inspection programme, including how many engines were inspected prior to the accident and if the engine that failed had been inspected.

A Southwest flight in August 2016 with a CFM56-7B engine made a safe emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida, after a fan blade separated and debris ripped a hole above the left wing.

After that incident, the European agency gave airlines nine months to check engines. US regulators were still were considering what to do after proposing some checks.

Woman killed after engine explodes midair on Southwest Airlines flight

  • An engine on a Southwest Airlines flight with 149 people aboard exploded in mid-airy,
  • killing one passenger and nearly sucking another out of a window that was shattered by shrapnel, according to airline and federal authorities and witness and media accounts.
  • The plane, a Boeing 737 which was bound to Dallas from New York, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.
  • The death of 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan on Flight 1380 was the first in a US commercial aviation accident since 2009, according to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) statistics.
  • A preliminary investigation showed that an engine fan blade was missing, having apparently broken off, and that there was metal fatigue where it normally would be attached.
  • At an earlier news briefing in Washington, Sumwalt said that one person had been killed, but did not describe the circumstances.
  • "A woman was partially, was drawn out of the plane and pulled back in by other passengers," Todd Bauer, whose daughter was on the flight, told the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia.