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FAA orders inspections of engines like one in Southwest accident
22 April 2018, 01:56 | Vickie Mathis
The FAA estimated the review will involve 352 engines in the United States, and 681 engines worldwide. The emergency order is effective immediately and inspections must be completed within 20 days. In keeping with its overall business model, Southwest reportedly contracts out most of its maintenance to third-party companies, which often employ low-paid workers in impoverished countries where safety regulations are less stringent. About 14,000 CFM56-7B engines are in operation.
Jennifer Riordan, a 43-year-old bank executive from Albuquerque, New Mexico, died in Tuesday's accident.
Photo Federal investigators in Philadelphia examined damage to the turbofan engine on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 that failed on Tuesday, leading a passenger's death.
The airline has sent passengers apology letters and cheques for US$5,000 "to cover any of [their] immediate financial needs".
Jim Hall, NTSB chairman during the Clinton administration, said all CFM engines on 737s should be inspected.
Southwest had initially pushed back against CFM International's recommendation that inspections be completed within 12 months and had asked for more time past year, reported The Associated Press. Airlines say the number of engines needing blade inspections will be much higher, partly because since last summer more engines have hit the number of flights triggering an inspection.
The Boeing 737 aircraft that Jennifer Riordan was a passenger on had a fault in one of its CFM56-7B engines, and ultrasonic tests on fan blades that have performed 30,000 or more total accumulated flight cycles will be carried out. Fortunately, the passenger compartment remained intact and the pilot was able to make an emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida without any injuries.
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Operators will have 20 days to inspect 737's with engines that have had approximately 30,000 takeoffs and landings.
The FAA said it will consider ordering expanded action "as we learn of additional information from this most recent incident". Inspections take between two and four hours per engine, according to the FAA and manufacturer. CFM recommends that airlines use an ultrasound device, which can detect small cracks beneath the surface.
In September 2016, a fan in the left engine of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 separated from the hub during a flight from New Orleans to Orlando, sending shrapnel into the fuselage and leaving a five by 16-inch hole in the body of the aircraft.
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