Vermont family of woman killed on Southwest flight: 'God needed her'

Southwest jet forced to land after engine blowout breaks window

USA aviation authorities investigating a deadly midair explosion of a Southwest Airlines jet engine say one of its fan blades had snapped off due to metal fatigue.

The proposed FAA directive in 2017 would have required ultrasonic inspections within six months of the directive's adoption for aircraft that had flown more than 15,000 cycles (one takeoff and landing is a cycle).

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said on Tuesday at the Philadelphia airport that a preliminary investigation found an engine fan blade missing, having apparently broken off, and that there was metal fatigue at the point where it would normally be attached.

He could not say if the incident indicated a fleet-wide issue with the Boeing 737-700. She said the company had satisfied the terms of the CFM service bulletin but did not immediately answer questions about how many engines had been inspected and whether the failed engine had been inspected. That led manufacturer CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and France's Safran SA, to recommend last June that airlines conduct the inspections of fan blades on many Boeing 737s.

Sumwalt also said a casing on the engine is meant to contain any parts that come loose but, due to the speed, the metal was able to penetrate the shell.

"We may be seeing a new phenomenon involving engines as they get old", said Bill Waldock, an expert on aircraft accident investigations with the Embry Aeronautical University.

Airline and hospital officials haven't said whether anyone experienced hypoxia when the flight - en route from NY to Dallas with 144 passengers and five crew members - lost pressurization after part of the Boeing 737-700's engine shot through a cabin window. Debris from the engine and cowling penetrated the plane's wing and fuselage, shattering a passenger window.

"Out of respect for her family, I am going to leave that alone", he said.

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While the airline decided not to identify the pilot, saying only that the employee has years experience on the job, passengers posting on social media identified her as Tammie Jo Shults. It was the first death in a US commercial aviation accident since 2009.

One passenger died as a result of the accident and seven received minor injuries, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Analysis of the window frame vicinity at Row 14, where the fatally injured passenger was seated, "found no window materials-the acrylic that the windows are made of-inside the airplane". That number could be higher now because more engines have hit the number of flights triggering an inspection. You said there was a hole and somebody went out?

Eric Zilbert, from California, said: 'From her waist above, she was outside of the plane'. "We're stunned. My heart breaks for Michael", Marianne Riordan said.

Other passengers grabbed her body as she was being sucked out and as Flight 1380 began dropping toward the ground.

A second bang followed, said Marty Martinez, a 29-year-old digital marketing specialist heading home to Dallas.

"In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, panels above your seat will open revealing oxygen masks."

"Southwest 1380, we're single engine", the pilot radioed to air traffic control. "OK, and is your plane physically on fire?"

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