Southwest plane makes emergency landing

A Southwest Airlines plane bound for Dallas made an emergency landing in Philadelphia after one of its engines failed.

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 12:48 PM
Updated: Apr 18, 2018 12:48 PM

For 20 minutes, the Southwest Airlines jet was a normal flight from New York to Dallas with 149 people aboard.

The plane was flying at 32,500 feet Tuesday morning as passengers settled in for the three-hour flight.

Suddenly, alarms blared in the cockpit as what sounded like an explosion boomed from the left side of the plane. Oxygen masks swiftly dropped from the ceiling.

What followed was a terrifying sequence of events that ended with one woman dead, seven people injured and an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport.

'Everybody was going crazy'

Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 took off from LaGuardia Airport at 10:27 a.m. and landed in Philadelphia about 11:23 a.m.

The Boeing 737 was headed to Dallas with 144 passengers and five crew members. For about 20 minutes, everything seemed calm. Then "a loud boom" suddenly jolted the plane, passenger Marty Martinez said.

"About five seconds later, all the oxygen masks deployed," he said. "I immediately knew something was wrong. It just didn't register what could have been."

Something in the engine broke apart midair and burst through the window, passengers said. A woman was sucked toward the hole where the window once had been as passengers struggled to pull her back in.

"Everybody was going crazy, and yelling and screaming," Martinez said. "As the plane is going down, I am literally purchasing internet just so I can get some kind of communication to the outside world."

Objects flying out

As the plane quickly descended and passengers continued scrambling to pull the woman away from the window, other passengers stuffed clothes and jackets into the hole, said Martinez, who was sitting two rows away from the woman. Those items got sucked out of the plane, too, he said.

"We could feel the air from the outside coming in, and then we had smoke kind of coming in the window," Martinez said.

In the chaos, it was hard to hear anyone. Flight tracking website Flightradar24 estimated the plane descended from 31,684 feet to 10,000 feet in about five minutes.

"It was very loud, so announcements from the pilot or any other crew would not have been heard," passenger Amy Serafini said.

Passenger Matt Tranchin watched the commotion as people tried to help.

"Everyone kind of descended on where this hole was," he said.

He thought about his family and whether he'd see them again. The thoughts were terrifying.

"That I'll never live to see my son born. That I'll never be able to say goodbye to my wife, say goodbye to my parents. But I am. I feel really very fortunate for that," he told CNN affiliate WPVI.

Nurse performs CPR

After trying to pull the woman back for several minutes, a man in a cowboy hat and a second man finally got her into her seat, Serafini said.

A nurse aboard the flight performed CPR.

"We started CPR on the lady, which we continued for about 20 minutes. We were still doing CPR when the plane landed," Peggy Williams said. "We made every effort that we could possibly make to save this woman's life."

Martinez said it was a rough landing, and he wasn't sure if the plane was going to crash. The jet could have been landing on a freeway for all he knew, he said.

"I didn't know if we were going to be running into a building. I didn't know what state the plane or even the pilot was in, if we were in condition to land," he said. "Finally when we ... came to a halt, of course, the entire crowd was (in) tears and people crying and we were just thankful to be alive."

Air traffic call

Before the plane landed, the pilot asked the air traffic controller to send medics to meet it on the tarmac.

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

"No, it's not on fire, but part of it is missing. They said there's a hole and that someone went out," the pilot responded.

"Um, I'm sorry, you said there was a hole and somebody went out? Southwest 1380, it doesn't matter we will work it out there," the air traffic controller said.

The controller asked other planes to prepare for the airport to be shut down.

The investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board said a preliminary look at the engine shows one of its 24 fan blades was missing.

There was evidence of metal fatigue where the blade attached to a hub, according to NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

"In aviation, there should be inspection techniques and procedures in place to detect something like that. What we want to find out is why was this not detected ahead of time," Sumwalt told CNN on Wednesday.

Metal fatigue is not something that could be seen at a glance, and because it was internal, even a careful maintenance inspection from outside the engine may have missed it, he said. The fan blade spins at several thousand revolutions per minute, so when it was "liberated," Sumwalt said, it basically broke into shrapnel.

It was not an explosion, he said, likening it more to a car's combustion engine throwing a rod, which bangs around the engine.

"More than likely, when the engine fan blade separated, it caused the cowling to separate and end up in this small town northwest of the airport," he said.

The cowling was found about 70 miles from where the plane landed.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the plane was inspected Sunday, but he had no details on what parts were examined. "I'm not aware of any issues with the airplane or any issues with the engine involved," he said.

Sumwalt told CNN that Kelly assured him Tuesday night that Southwest will be conducting "an aggressive ultrasonic inspection campaign for their entire fleet."

The flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder have been sent to Washington, Sumwalt said.

Passenger identified as 43-year-old mother of 2

The woman killed was identified as Jennifer Riordan, 43. She worked for Wells Fargo in Albuquerque, New Mexico, according to the bank. Southwest said hers was the first in-flight death in company history.

"This is a sad day and our hearts go out to the family and the loved ones of the deceased customer," Kelly said. "We will do all that we can to support them during this very difficult time."

In a statement, Wells Fargo called her "a well-known leader who was loved and respected."

She is survived by two children and her husband, Michael Riordan, who was once the chief operating officer for the city of Albuquerque, CNN affiliate KOAT reported.

Her family said in a statement that her impact on those she touched "can never be fully measured."

"She is the bedrock of our family. She and Mike wrote a love story unlike any other. Her beauty and love is evident through her children," the statement said. "In her memory, please remember to always be kind, loving, caring and sharing."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 446380

Reported Deaths: 5995
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin927471474
Ramsey39820736
Dakota32876338
Anoka30877363
Washington20066227
Stearns17813187
St. Louis13609241
Scott1191796
Wright11570104
Olmsted1041375
Sherburne818965
Carver692436
Clay650280
Rice604168
Kandiyohi553471
Blue Earth538933
Crow Wing481374
Otter Tail454466
Chisago450832
Benton418685
Winona387246
Douglas373466
Nobles368746
Mower363329
Goodhue345358
Polk327956
McLeod324245
Morrison311144
Beltrami309447
Lyon300636
Becker284139
Itasca284043
Isanti281641
Carlton278543
Steele27229
Pine266013
Freeborn243420
Todd231630
Nicollet223836
Brown214534
Mille Lacs213646
Le Sueur208815
Cass207323
Meeker199233
Waseca188916
Wabasha16953
Martin169326
Roseau165416
Hubbard149238
Redwood139527
Renville137139
Houston135613
Dodge13384
Chippewa130932
Cottonwood126818
Fillmore12245
Wadena119616
Rock109712
Sibley10837
Aitkin107633
Watonwan10638
Faribault104616
Pennington98815
Kanabec97418
Pipestone93923
Yellow Medicine93514
Murray8785
Jackson85210
Swift83118
Pope7375
Marshall70315
Stevens6978
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65716
Lake63215
Wilkin6229
Koochiching59310
Lincoln4821
Big Stone4553
Unassigned43668
Grant4298
Norman4238
Mahnomen4107
Kittson37219
Red Lake3164
Traverse2503
Lake of the Woods1901
Cook1140

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 303464

Reported Deaths: 4269
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45396448
Linn17695274
Scott15387163
Black Hawk13659236
Woodbury12953175
Johnson1204749
Dubuque11312150
Pottawattamie8942112
Dallas882171
Story863834
Webster467571
Cerro Gordo463568
Sioux453756
Clinton448861
Warren438838
Marshall425761
Buena Vista391929
Muscatine386777
Des Moines380941
Plymouth348968
Wapello341698
Jasper320458
Lee314430
Marion302152
Jones270449
Henry263430
Carroll253434
Bremer242248
Crawford228522
Boone216417
Washington214531
Benton208844
Jackson191131
Mahaska190736
Tama185857
Dickinson184226
Delaware172336
Kossuth171343
Clay166019
Wright163024
Fayette160022
Buchanan158323
Hamilton157929
Winneshiek155119
Harrison154762
Hardin154229
Cedar151819
Clayton150748
Butler146824
Page143715
Cherokee138227
Floyd138036
Mills136016
Lyon133832
Poweshiek132424
Hancock129024
Allamakee126927
Iowa123922
Calhoun12209
Grundy120226
Jefferson119524
Madison11899
Winnebago118529
Mitchell115734
Louisa114330
Cass112641
Chickasaw110612
Sac110615
Emmet110331
Appanoose109838
Union108122
Humboldt104219
Guthrie102424
Franklin101618
Shelby101426
Unassigned9160
Palo Alto9019
Keokuk84325
Montgomery84022
Howard82819
Monroe80818
Clarke7847
Pocahontas77211
Ida74030
Davis68921
Greene6887
Adair68620
Lucas6488
Osceola6349
Monona63316
Worth5993
Taylor5919
Fremont5046
Van Buren49412
Decatur4804
Ringgold4269
Wayne41421
Audubon4118
Adams2953
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 25° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 17°
Mason City
Clear
24° wxIcon
Hi: 25° Lo: 19°
Feels Like: 12°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
21° wxIcon
Hi: 23° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 13°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
21° wxIcon
Hi: 22° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 9°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 25° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 12°
A big temperature swing is on the way
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Saturday's local highlights and scores

Image

John Marshall ready for 2021

Image

Is the City of Rochester paying men and women equally?

Image

LWVMN asks for "truth and consequences" for state lawmakers

Image

Sports Overtime Part 2

Image

Sports Overtime Part 1

Image

Plans for polar plunge

Image

Equal work and equal pay.

Image

Aaron's Friday Night Forecast

Image

Mega Millions jackpot soars to $750 million

Community Events