Investigators Eye Wear And Tear In Fatal Southwest Engine Failure

A Southwest Airlines plane sits on the runway at the Philadelphia International Airport after it made an emergency landing in Philadelphia on Tuesday

Mr Needum, seated next to his father and son, turned back to see that oxygen masks had deployed in the cabin. Mackey said she and the child tried but failed to bring Riordan back in.

"So I had clicked my seat belt back on and I was going to get something out of my bag".

But then, a greater emergency unfolded just behind him: A passenger in Row 14 was in a life or death struggle. I kind of felt like I was sitting there with the mask coming down.

Needum and other passengers on Tuesday's flight from NY to Dallas pulled 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan back into the plane and performed CPR on her after the window she was sitting next to blew out.

"A guy helped and we got her pulled in and they tried to resuscitate her", he said.

A nurse began administering CPR.

This latest incident could very well spark a fresh airworthiness directive from the FAA, and would mean that all USA based CFM56 powered aircraft would have to undergo ultrasonic inspection of each fan blade, which could have far reaching consequences for airlines such as Southwest, who operate large fleets of CFM56 powered aircraft.

"Injured passengers, OK, and is your airplane physically on fire?" asked the air traffic controller.

Photos of the plane on the tarmac showed a missing window and a chunk gone from the left engine, including part of its cover.

"The engine went out and we had a lady go out the window, and we couldn't pull her in", he said.

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With the plane flying at about 885km per hour, Ms Riordan probably died instantly.

"The largest stresses, the largest loads are located along the base of the blade, so that is more likely where the crack initiated and caused failure", tells Professor Sammy Tin of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

"I saw a passenger pumping on her chest performing CPR and someone ran up to the front of the plane where they got a defibrillator".

Jennifer Riordan was rushed to the hospital but later died of her injuries.

"As the aircraft was climbing through about 32,500 feet, the engine parameters, both RPM indicators on the left engine went down to zero, oil pressure went down to zero, and the engine vibration increased significantly on the left engine", he said.

Needum and other passengers pulled the woman, Jennifer Riordon of New Mexico, back into the aircraft.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team of investigators to Philadelphia. It broke off midair, causing the engine to blow apart. The blown window created a suction, partially pulling out Riordan. The blade was separated at the point where it would come into the hub and there was evidence of metal fatigue. He still thinks of Riordan and prays for her family.

"She took the time to stop and talk to our daughter", Stephanie Needum said.

When asked about the wife and mother who lost her life despite everyone's courageous efforts, Needum's eyes filled with tears as he said, "She had two kids, and a loving husband, and a community around her that loved her".

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