NTSB | Reuters
U.S. NTSB investigators are on scene examining damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane in this image released from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 17, 2018.
The manufacturer of the type of engine that failed on a Southwest Airlines flight earlier this week, killing one passenger, is planning to recommend Friday that a broad swath of engines be tested, according to a source familiar with the matter.
CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric and France’s Safran Aircraft Engines, built the CFM56-7B engine, which lost one of its fan blades on Southwest Flight 1380 shortly into a New York to Dallas trip on Tuesday morning. Shrapnel flew, puncturing the fuselage. One of the plane’s windows blew out and a passenger, who died, was partly sucked out through the opening.
The manufacturer is set to issue a service bulletin on Friday afternoon, according to the source familiar with the issue. Such bulletins are only recommendations but the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to mandate more rigorous inspections of these commonly used engines within days.
CFM International had recommended more stringent checks of the engines last year after a fan blade on the same type of engine broke during a Southwest flight in 2016. There were no fatalities on that flight, but flying debris punctured the aircraft.
The updated guidance expected on Friday from CFM International was set to be issued even before Southwest Flight 1380 earlier this week, the source said.
More than 12,000 of these engines are powering aircraft around the world. The manufacturer will recommend ultrasonic testing of a larger swath of engines than it previously had, and that these tests could take several hours. The number of cycles, or usage, of the engines will determine whether they will be subjected to the tests, the source said.