A terrible incident occurred on a recent flight to Dallas that has had a major impact on the aviation industry. During the flight an engine failed, and debris from a broken fan blade was sent flying into the wing and fuselage. Sadly, a window was blown out and the passenger sat next to the window was fatally injured. The casualty was mother of two Jennifer Riordan and our thoughts go out to her family and loved ones at this sad time.

Despite the damage to the plane, the pilot, Captain Tammie Jo Shults was able to make an emergency landing at Philadelphia and there were no other serious injuries.

Southwest responded immediately

Southwest airlines is renowned for its safety plans and procedures and so it’s no surprise that this horrific incident has caused Southwest to fast forward plans to check every single one of the many thousands of fan blades across the entire fleet. It’s imperative that all the planes are checked and deemed safe for flight, this is certainly something that must never be allowed to happen again.

The first accident to cause a passenger death in 9 years

Thankfully, accidents on board planes that result in the death of a passenger are very rare. The last time it happened on a US airline was over nine years ago. Airline safety is paramount, and a full investigation is currently underway. This issue is particularly concerning as a broken fan blade caused another Southwest plane to make an emergency landing less than two years ago. As there were no casualties, this didn’t make front page news at the time, but as it has now happened again, the previous incident has been brought into the spotlight.

The final findings will take some time

The investigation is likely to take over a year to complete. Until then it is not likely that we will learn the real reason for the engine failure, and whether or not it could have been prevented. We do not yet know the outcome of the investigation into the prior fan blade incident and that happened back in 2016. Is there a connection? Is there some sort of fault that could occur again? Hopefully we will find out before tragedy strikes again.

In the meantime…

Southwest are currently cancelling some flights to make emergency inspections of the engine fan blades. If you’re travelling with Southwest, keep checking your flight to see if yours is one of those affected.

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