Southwest Airlines engine failure kills passenger

By Rebecca Colnes
Staff Writer

Southwest Airlines is receiving backlash after an engine failure on Southwest Flight 1380 killed one person and injured seven more on April 17, according to The New York Times.

The flight captains make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. (AP Photo)
The flight captains make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. (AP Photo)

The Boeing 737-700 was on its way to Dallas from New York City, but made an emergency landing in Philadelphia about 40 minutes into the flight, according to CNN.

Passenger Jennifer Riordan was partially sucked out of the plane when debris moving at high speeds blew out the window. She was pulled back in, but died at a Philadelphia hospital from blunt trauma to her head, neck and torso, according to CNN.

A single fast-rotating fan blade from inside the engine broke off due to the weakening of the blade metal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

After the window was shattered, the cabin was depressurized for 20 minutes as wind and debris swirled around passengers. The plane quickly descended, but the pilots managed to level the aircraft as it successfully made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport, according to The New York Times.

Flight captain Tammie Jo Shultz flew the plane with only one engine. Shultz was one of the Navy’s first female pilots during a time when women were not allowed to serve in combat. She kept calm throughout the incident, according to The New York Times.

Around 11:20 a.m., the plane landed in Philadelphia to applause from passengers who informed their friends and families by phone that they were OK. Riordan was taken to the hospital while flight attendants assisted other passengers with minor injuries, according to The New York Times.  

Southwest Airlines sent letters to passengers expressing “sincere apologies,” according to CNN. Included in the envelope was a check for $5,000 to cover immediate financial needs and a travel voucher worth $1,000.

Airlines have previously given passengers money in traumatic situations, according to CNN transportation analyst Mary Schiavo.

“It gets money in the hands of people that need counseling or something,” Schiavo said.

This accident happened two days after the plane passed visual inspections, according to The New York Times.

The National Transportation Security Board is investigating the engine failure and is still looking for debris from the engine. They are also reviewing data from the airplane’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, according to The New York Times.

Southwest Airlines has canceled dozens of flights to allow time for engine inspections in light of the incident, according to NBC.