FAA orders engine inspections after Southwest incident


The Federal Aviation Administration ordered emergency inspections at the weekend of jet engines like the one that ruptured during a recent Southwest Airlines flight, leaving a passenger dead. The incident claimed the life of passenger Jennifer Riordan, the first fatality on board a United States commercial airliner since 2009. The agency said its order affects 352 engines in the USA and another 681 worldwide on "new generation" Boeing 737 jets.

The FAA directive comes as a result of a service bulletin issued earlier Friday by the engine's manufacturer as well as information gathered from the investigation of Southwest Flight 1380.

A female passenger died after she was almost sucked from the cabin of a Southwest Airlines flight en route from NY to Dallas on Tuesday. "The 40 cancellations today are due to aircraft being out of service for our accelerated engine fan blade engine inspection program, which we announced on Tuesday night", Southwest said in their statement.

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The CFM56-7B engine was manufactured by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co. It is unclear how many of those delays were due to engine inspections.

The FAA in August 2017 drafted an order giving airline up to 18 months to carry out checks, but it had not finalized the measure by the time of Tuesday's fatal second accident. But the agency never issued a final decision.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said following the incident that the plane's engine had "metal fatigue", and pieces had detached from it during the flight. Investigators study the probable cause of single accidents and recommend possible changes to safety rules, while regulators have to assess whether safety risks could appear.

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The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered airlines to inspect certain older CFM56-7B turbofan engines.

For engines with 20,000 cycles, the engine maker recommends an ultrasonic inspection by the end of August.

The European order requires that after the first inspection, airlines should keep repeating the process every 3,000 cycles, which typically represents about two years in service.

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