Home / Observatory / News / Video: One Woman Killed After Southwest Airlines Jet Engine 'explosion' Mid-air


A woman named Jennifer Riordan – a mother-of-two and bank vice-president at Wells Fargo in Albuquerque, New Mexico – has died after an engine of a Southwest Airlines jet exploded in mid-air, smashing a window and causing her to be partially sucked out.

Other passengers had to pull her back in.

Seven of the 143 passengers were injured in the incident, causing Flight 1380 had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. A window, wings and fuselage were damaged – Initial findings say an engine fan blade was missing.

The Boeing 737-700 was travelling from New York's La Guardia airport to Dallas, Texas.

In the air traffic control recording released by NBC News, pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, is heard saying: "We have a part of the aircraft missing, so we're going to need to slow down a bit."

Asked if the plane is on fire, she says it is not but adds: "They said there is a hole and someone went out."

A preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed evidence of metal fatigue at the point where an engine fan blade had apparently broken off.

According to NTSB Chairman, Robert Sumwalt, part of the engine's covering was found in Bernville, Pennsylvania, roughly 70 miles (112km) from Philadelphia.

he said, "It is very unusual so we are taking this event extremely seriously. The type of engine (a CFM56) is very widely used in commercial transport".

The investigation could take 12 to 15 months, he added.

Southwest Airlines said it was accelerating its inspection programme for all its engines, which should be completed over the next 30 days.

Southwest Airlines released a statement saying it was "devastated", extending their sympathy to all affected by the "tragic event".

Adam Thiel, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department said one passenger had been taken to hospital in a critical condition while seven other people were treated for minor injuries at the scene. "Passengers and crew "did some pretty amazing things under very difficult circumstances".

First responders "found a fuel leak and small fire in one of the engines and used foam to extinguish the flames".

Kristopher Johnson told CNN, "It just shredded the left-side engine completely... it was scary,"

Timothy Bourman, added, "All the sudden, it felt like we dropped 100 feet.

"We were kind of out of control for a while. It seemed like the pilot was having a hard time controlling the plane. Honestly, I think we just all thought we were going down.

"We're just all really thankful to be alive right now," he said. "Thankful to God, thankful to that pilot."

Passenger, Marty Martinez, posted a brief Facebook live with the caption: "Something is wrong with our plane! It appears we are going down! Emergency landing!! Southwest flight from NYC to Dallas!!"

After landing, he said it felt like the plane was "free-falling", adding that he saw one injured woman being taken off the plane by rescuers.

"There was blood everywhere," he said.

"First there was an explosion and then almost immediately the oxygen masks came down and probably within a matter of 10 seconds the engine hit a window and busted it wide open."

The US Federal Aviation Administration has opened an investigation.

Watch the video below for more.

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