Deadly emergency plane landing leads to order for mandatory inspections


The Federal Aviation Administration is poised to issue an emergency airworthiness directive as soon as Friday calling for stepped up inspections of the CFM56-7B engine, manufactured by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and Safran, said a person familiar with the agency's plans who wasn't authorized to speak about the move publicly. The emergency order is effective immediately and inspections must be completed within 20 days. The US Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Administration are making those recommendations into requirements. Regulators in other countries generally follow the FAA's lead. "This is a calling that he has and he did incredible", said Stephanie Needum, who was on board Flight 1380.

The manufacturer of the engine that failed catastrophically on Tuesday on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 issued new guidelines on Friday that call for more frequent and more thorough inspections of its engine fan blades.

Forty-three-year-old banking executive Jennifer Riordan of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was fatally injured when she was sucked partway out of the jet through a shattered window. The plane, flying from NY, landed safely in Philadelphia.

In a letter to passengers obtained by ABC News, Southwest offered honest apologies as well as a $5,000 check and the promise of a $1,000 travel voucher.

Inspections recommended by the end of August will affect an additional 2,500 engines. During a public comment period that expired in October, Southwest and several other airlines raised objections, saying among other things they needed more time to carry out the work. Each aircraft has two engines.

In the earlier case, a fan blade fractured and broke loose, bouncing in front of the engine's protective cover and then striking the plane, causing it to lose pressure. The jet, which was headed from NY to Dallas, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. The agency announced on Wednesday it would issue those orders within weeks. The directive stipulates that these inspections must be completed within the next 20 days. More than 150 of those have already been checked by operators, it said.

The inspections will focus on the fan blades, the FAA said. CFM recommends that airlines use an ultrasound device, which can detect small cracks beneath the surface.