Southwest: inspections show no flaws in fan blades

By Ashley Halsey III | Washington Post

Southwest Airlines has completed the federally mandated inspection of 35,000 engine fan blades like the one that disintegrated in a fatal accident last month without finding additional flaws, but Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said Wednesday that “a handful” of blades had been sent to the manufacturer for further examination.

Southwest said the blades were sent to engine maker General Electric out of “an abundance of caution” because of “coating anomalies” on the blades, and not because they showed any sign of metal fatigue.

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“I don’t think we’ll have any [negative] findings with those,” Kelly said in talking with reporters after Southwest held its annual meeting in Annapolis.

A Southwest passenger, Jennifer Riordan, 43, a bank executive and mother of two from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was killed April 17 when an engine fan fractured near its hub in a spray of metal fragments that shattered her window as the Boeing 737 climbed to cruising altitude.

Riordan’s plane, Flight 1380, which was taking her home from a trip to New York, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

Kelly said the fan blade in the fatal fracture had not been tested under the more rigorous standards Southwest implemented after a virtually identical engine fan fracture almost two years ago.

In August 2016, on a Southwest flight from New Orleans to Atlanta, one of 24 blades on the twin-engine 737 broke off, punctured the fuselage just above the wing and depressurized the cabin. No one was reported injured.

“The inspections since then are different than the inspections that were occurring prior to the 2016 event,” Kelly said. “We are doing very frequent inspections [now], even though the fatigue of …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


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