Investigators Find Signs of Cracking on Engine Blade Following Explosion
Photo via Rennard Meade on Twitter
Following an investigation into a Southwest Airlines engine explosion which occurred on Aug. 27, officials have announced that the stub left after an engine fan blade which broke off showed signs of metal fatigue.
According to The Associated Press, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that the debris from the engine failure hit the fuselage, wing and tail of Southwest Airlines Flight 3472, causing the plane to lose cabin pressure and oxygen masks to be deployed.
The debris that struck the fuselage ripped a hole in the side that measured five inches by 16 inches above the left wing. There were no engine parts discovered in the hole, and the interior passenger compartment was not breached.
The investigation found that the blade had broken off from its base during the flight and was never found. The remaining stub was tested by officials and showed signs “consistent with fatigue crack growth.”
Southwest Airlines said it is working closely with the NTSB to figure out exactly why the accident took place and how a similar incident can be avoided. The airline says repairs on the Boeing 737 have begun, but no date has been set for its return to service.
“Given the experience we have had with this aircraft and this engine, the odds of a systemic problem are basically nil,” aviation-research firm analyst Richard Aboulafia told The AP.
Flight 3472 was en route from New Orleans to Orlando with 104 people onboard when the incident occurred, but the plane was able to make a safe emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida. There were no reported injuries.
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