NTSB recommends Boeing fix 737 NGs after Southwest flight death

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board released findings and recommendations Tuesday based on the deadly Southwest Flight 1380 on April 17, 2018. File Photo by NTSB/ UPI

Nov. 20 (UPI) — The National Transportation Safety Board recommended Tuesday that Boeing redesign the engine covers on its 737 next-generation planes after an investigation of Southwest Flight 1380, in which a passenger died last year.

Flight 1380 passenger Jennifer Riordan died in a hospital in April 2018 after she was pulled from the fuselage through a broken window due to rapidly escaping air pressure, as the plane traveled from New York City to Dallas.

The investigation found that along with the one death, eight suffered minor injuries on April 17, 2018, when a fractured fan blade from the engine broke off and impacted the fan case, causing fan cowl fragments to strike the plane’s fuselage near the cabin window, and the window to break as the cabin rapidly depressurized, the NTSB announced Tuesday.

The blade had fractured due to a low-cycle fatigue crack, the report said.

The NTSB recommended the Federal Aviation Administration require Boeing to redesign thousands of Boeing 737 NGs’ engine covers. The NTSB said in the report the goal of recommendation was “to ensure the structural integrity.”

It also recommended Southwest Airlines flight attendants training include “lessons learned from the accident,” including the importance of them being secured in a jump-seat during emergency landings and other guidance for mitigating hazards to passengers.

“The accident demonstrates that a fan blade can fail and release differently than that observed during engine certification testing and accounted for in air-frame structural analyses,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said in a statement. “It is important to go beyond routine examination of fan blades; the structural integrity of the engine nacelle components for various air-frame and engine combinations need to be ensured.”

The recommendations are unrelated to Boeing’s 737 Max grounded since mid-March after two fatal crashes.

Still, dozens of Boeing 737 NGs have also been grounded recently after inspectors found structural cracks on the pickle forks that connect the wings to fuselages.

Boeing said Tuesday it has received orders for 60 of its 737 Max aircraft even though it’s not allowed to fly worldwide yet.


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