A Southwest Airlines jet made an emergency landing at Philadelphia’s airport Tuesday with part of the covering from its left engine ripped off and a window damaged.
One person died, the chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Tuesday afternoon.
Neither the airline nor the Federal Aviation Administration explained what went wrong.
Southwest said there were 143 passengers and five crew members on board the Boeing 737, which was headed from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Dallas’s Love Field. Passengers were seen walking off the plane onto the tarmac at the airport after landing around 11:20 a.m. ET.
Passenger Amanda Bourman said she saw emergency medical workers using a defibrillator to help a woman who was taken off the plane after it landed. The woman’s condition wasn’t immediately known.
A fire official said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon that one person was transported to hospital in critical condition. NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt later said there had been one fatality.
Twelve other passengers were assessed, with seven of those being treated on the scene for minor injuries, local officials said.
It was too early to tell exactly what had happened, but that there was some damage to the plane’s fuselage and wings, the local officials said.
Sumwalt told reporters that the NTSB is launching a team to Philadelphia to investigate. The team is expected to arrive around 4:30 p.m. ET, and will begin an immediate inspection of the engine and fuselage. The engine will eventually be moved off site, so investigators can do a detailed tear-down of it.
He said it’s his understanding that the flight recorders have been secured, and he expects a preliminary readout this evening.
The New York resident said she was seated near the back of the plane and was asleep when she heard a loud noise. She said the plane was fairly quiet because everyone was wearing an oxygen mask, while some passengers were in tears and others shouted words of encouragement.
Earlier in the day, the Philadelphia airport tweeted that Flight 1380 “landed safely at PHL and passengers are being brought into the terminal.” No other details were given.
The FAA said that the plane landed after the crew reported damage to one of the plane’s engines, along with the fuselage and at least one window.
Passenger Marty Martinez did a brief Facebook Live posting while wearing an oxygen mask. He posted, “Something is wrong with our plane! It appears we are going down! Emergency landing!! Southwest flight from NYC to Dallas!!”
After the plane landed, he posted photos of a damaged window near the engine.
News helicopter footage showed damage to the left engine and the tarmac covered with firefighting foam, although there were no signs of flames or smoke.
Tracking data from FlightAware.com shows the flight was heading west over New York’s southern tier when it abruptly turned toward Philadelphia.
A photo posted to the account of Marty Martinez, left, shows passengers preparing for the emergency landing.(Marty Martinez/Facebook)
Southwest has about 700 planes, all of them 737s, including more than 500 737-700s like the one involved in Tuesday’s emergency landing.
It is the world’s largest operator of 737s. The Boeing 737 is the best-selling jetliner in the world and has a good safety record.
Investigators are likely to take apart the failed engine from Tuesday’s plane and examine maintenance records as they try to piece together the cause of the explosion.
A photo taken by a passenger on the Southwest flight shows some of the external damage.(Marty Martinez/Facebook)
The engine failure was reminiscent of a similar event on a Southwest Boeing 737-700 jet in August 2016 as it flew from New Orleans to Orlando, Fla.
Shrapnel from the engine left a hole 12-by-40 centimetres just above the wing. Passenger oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. Pilots landed the plane safely in Pensacola, Fla.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said one of the engine’s fan blades broke off from the hub during the flight. The broken edge of the blade showed crack lines consistent with metal fatigue.
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