Examining the Fatal Southwest Airlines Accident

What caused the fan blade failure on Southwest Flight 1380?

In the first fatal accident on a U.S. commercial airline since 2009, a 43-year-old mother of two was sucked partially out the window of Southwest Flight 1380 from New York to Dallas. The accident happened about 20 minutes into the flight when a fan blade within one of the engine’s failed. Debris from the destroyed engine ripped a hole within the fuselage above the wing, causing the cabin to decompress. A piece of shrapnel punctured the window, causing the passenger seated next to it to be sucked out the window. Our New Mexico product liability lawyers discuss the fatal Southwest accident and potential liability below.

Metal Fatigue Linked to Southwest Passenger Death

Following the horrific Southwest Flight 1380 death, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigations have been ongoing. Thus far, investigations have revealed that the engine failure was caused by the cracking of a fan blade. The fan blade failure resulted in the engine shutting down and, in turn, debris from the engine was released into the air, rather than contained within the engine as it should have been.

Miraculously, the pilot of this fated flight was able to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia with one engine and compression issues. All other passengers on the flight survived. For the family of the passenger who died, however, life will never be the same.

Now, Boeing 737 engines across the nation have been ordered to be inspected within the next 20 days. Fan blades with a certain number of flights will need an ultrasonic test to assess for cracks and weaknesses. Now, investigators are looking more closely at a 2016 emergency landing involving a Southwest flight that similarly suffered from fan blade separation, though this time no injuries occurred.

Commercial airlines have a good safety record, but accidents like this call to attention the potential dangers of flying. When a plane accident does occur, liability may rest with the airline, the pilot, or the makers of the plane part that failed. In the case of this Southwest flight, investigations will focus on Southwest’s plane maintenance as well as Boeing’s construction of the affected engine. Southwest has already provided the passengers aboard the flight with travel vouchers, but it is possible litigation will arise from the incident.

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