Southwest Airlines Flight 1380

On April 17, 2018, a Boeing 737 operated by Southwest Airlines (SWA), N772SW, experienced engine failure after departing from New York’s LaGuardia airport. As a result of the engine failure, the crew began an emergency descent and diverted to Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania.

One passenger was fatally injured, and eight were seriously injured. One hundred and twenty-five passengers suffered minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the incident.

The flight of SWA 1380 began uneventfully that morning. It was the second day of a four day pairing for the captain and first officer. They had flown from Nashville, Tennessee to LaGuardia airport the previous day on the same plane without incident. The takeoff was uneventful, but as the plane was climbing to cruising altitude, the crew members heard a loud bang and then felt a significant vibration in the plane. The plane began to roll to the right, and oxygen masks were deployed for the crew and passengers.

The investigation showed that, while in flight, a fan blade detached from the engine and punctured the body of the aircraft. The fan blade detached due to a fatigue crack in the base of the fan unit. One of the fan cowl components struck the body of the aircraft near a cabin window, breaking it and causing the cabin to depressurize, which partially ejected one passenger, resulting in her death. Eight other passengers were physically injured, and numerous passengers suffered severe emotional trauma.

In the post-incident investigation, the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) stated that the pilot, copilot, and flight crew had been well trained and had not contributed to the incident. They determined that the probable cause of the incident was solely due to the broken fan blade. The fractured fan blade had likely been on the plane for a number of years, including at the time of the fan blade set’s last overhaul in 2012. It is not known why the crack was not detected during that examination. It also was not detected during subsequent visual inspections.

Based on this accident, the NTSB issued seven safety recommendations to ensure the structural integrity of the Boeing 737 fan cowls, including that operators of Boeing 737 airplanes retrofit their airplanes with a redesigned fan cowl structure.

A number of passengers suffered anxiety disorders due to the fear of an imminent crash and seeing a fellow passenger ejected through the window. Many were subsequently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), due to the trauma of the experience. Slack Davis Sanger represented multiple clients that were injured and experienced debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder from this accident, securing settlements for their pain, suffering, and expenses.

Investigative Report

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