In the aftermath of the engine failure on the Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, federal investigators are focusing on a broken metal fan which could signal a need for more inspections of metal fatigue of planes. USA Today interviewed Dallas Managing Partner Ladd Sanger to discuss the implications this incident could have on the way airlines inspect their planes.
Investigators are looking into one of the 24 fan blades that push air into the left engine of the 737-700 that broke off during the flight and forced the plane to make an emergency landing. Fatigue cracks were found on the inside of the broken fan blade, but it is too early to tell whether it might have resulted from a manufacturing flaw. In August 2016, Southwest Airlines had a similar engine failure incident raising concern about recurring problems with their inspection program. According to Sanger, airlines will need to re-evaluate their inspection programs to determine if engines should be examined more frequently.
“It appears that the containment mechanism needs to be re-evaluated and redesigned,” said Sanger. “When you get to two within a two-year period, as rigorous as the inspection and manufacturing processes are, you’re starting to talk about a pattern developing. It’s not only a pattern of blade failures, but a pattern of uncontained engine failures that shouldn’t happen in the first place.”
Sanger also points out that passengers may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome. “The takeaway for passengers is that this could be a harrowing event,” said Sanger. “You might want to think about getting some type of counseling for PTSD.”