It was a high blow and suddenly Southwest Airlines jet rolled 41 degrees to the left. Smoke began to fill…
It was a high blow and suddenly Southwest Airlines jet rolled 41 degrees to the left. Smoke began to fill the cabin and the pilots rushed to ensure that all passengers could get oxygen from their masks.
When flight attendant Rachel Fernheimer got ride 14 she saw a woman still left by her knee belt but with her head, torso and arm hanging out a window.
Fernheimer grabbed one of the women’s legs while flight attendant Seanique Mallory grabbed her lower body. They described that they could not take the woman back in the plane until two male passengers went in to help.
The pivotal details of the deadly flight in April were released for the first time when the National Transportation Safety Board opened a hearing on Wednesday in Motorfel on the Southwest Flight 1
380, which contained 144 passengers and five crew members.
After several failed attempts to reach pilots through intercom due to air and noise, Mallory could finally return the situation to Tammie Jo Shults and Darren Ellisor, who had already planned an emergency landing of the paralyzed Boeing 737-700 in Philadelphia.
“We have (blurred words) a window that’s open and someone – stands out the window,” said Mallory. According to a transcript, she adds a little later: “Yes, all those still in their seat, we have people have helped her come in. I do not know what her condition is, but the window is out.”
The flight guards told investigators that at least one of the male passengers put the arm out of the window and wrapped it around the woman’s shoulder to help pull her back. Fernheimer said when she looked out the window, she could see that one of the plane engines split and there was blood on the outside of the airplane.
The passenger in the window, Jennifer Riordan, was injured – the first death of a US airline since 2009. Eight other passengers including at least one of the men who helped pull Riordan back in the window were affected by minor injuries.
One of the men, an EMT in Texas and a retired school nurse started CPR at Riordan, but according to interviews with investigators she said her injuries seemed too difficult. Emergency personnel took over when the plane had landed and the passengers collected their belongings to send them.
The accident was triggered by a motor fan blade that broke off. A piece of engine cover covered and split the window next to Riordan, a 43-year-old mother to two from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Wednesday’s Hearing in Washington focused on the design and inspection of fan blades on the engine, made by CFM International, a joint venture by General Electric and France’s Safran SA
A spokesman for CFM said in an email Wednesday that the company could not commenting on an active investigation, but noted that it had “reacted aggressively” to complete leaf inspections after the deadly flight before August 31st.
The page that broke had made about 32,000 flights. An investigation showed that it probably began to crack metal burst cracking when it was last inspected in 2012, says Mark Habedank, CFM engineer. But the crack was less than could be detected by the test used at the time using fluorescent dye.
Following the fatal accident, CFM recommended the use of more sophisticated tests with ultrasonic or electrical currents. The company also recommended much more frequent inspections and lubrication of the magazine.
A broken blower had triggered a similar engine failure with shrapnel on another southwest flight, in August 2016 across Florida.
A FAA expert on engines, Christopher Spinney said that the agency considered the Florida incident to be “very unexpected”.
“We decided early that we needed some corrective action, as it was an insecure condition,” said Spinney, “but we also decided we had some time.”
Instead of issuing a Emergency Order for Blades Inspections after the 2016 event, FAA began a normal process for new rules, which includes a chance for the public to comment and take longer. That process was still ongoing when the fatal accident occurred.
The fan blades are considered to have no real life span. CFM and FAA officials said they are now considering whether the blades need to be replaced at some point, even if they do not show wear.
Representatives from CFM, Boeing and Federal Aviation Administration were also expected to be questioned about the design of the engine