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Apr. 17, 2018
   

Southwest Airlines plane's engine explodes; 1 passenger dead

 

One person was killed and seven others were injured Tuesday after a Southwest Airlines plane engine apparently exploded midair, officials said.

Flight 1380, which was headed from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Dallas' Love Field, made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport just before 11:30 a.m. The jet had 144 passengers and five crew members aboard.



A Southwest Airlines plane sits on the runway at the Philadelphia International Airport after it made an emergency landing in Philadelphia, on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. (David Maialetti /The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Robert Sumwalt confirmed the death at a news conference Tuesday. It was the first passenger fatality on a U.S. airline since 2009, according to the NTSB.

Seven others were treated for minor injuries, Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said, adding that one of the engines experienced a fuel leak when firefighters arrived on scene, and a small fire was quickly brought under control.

The plane made an emergency landing after the crew reported damage to one of the engines, the fuselage and at least one window, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.


The engine on a Southwest Airlines plane is inspected as it sits on the runway at the Philadelphia International Airport after it made an emergency landing in Philadelphia, Tuesday, April 17, 2018. (Amanda Bourman via AP)

A female passenger, according to WCAU, was "partially sucked out" of the Boeing 373's window when the engine exploded and shrapnel from the engine smashed a window.

“One passenger, a woman, was partially…was drawn out towards the outside of the plane…was pulled back in by other passengers," Todd Bauer, the father-in-law of one of the passengers, told the news station.

It was not immediately clear if the passenger who was killed was the woman who was reportedly "sucked out" of the window.

The pilot, who was not immediately identified, asked an air traffic control operator via radio for emergency services to be on the scene for the injured passengers when the aircraft landed. When the pilot was asked if the plane was on fire they replied, "No, it's not on fire but part of it's missing. They said there is a hole and someone went out."

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson said the Boeing 737-700 diverted "because of an operational event" but photos appeared to show engine damage.


Passenger Marty Martinez captured the moment when oxygen masks were deployed on the flight. (Marty Martinez)

Marty Martinez, a passenger on the flight, posted a video on his personal Facebook page stating he was "recording his last moments." Martinez told CBS News there was "blood everywhere" on the aircraft.

"We were probably going down for 10 to 15 minutes," Martinez said. "And of course everyone is freaking out, everyone is crying. It was the scariest experience."

Southwest said in a statement it was "aware" of the incident.

"We are in the process of gathering more information," the statement said. "...Safety is always our top priority at Southwest Airlines, and we are working diligently to support our customers and crews at this time."

The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement saying it was "investigating the incident and the National Transportation Board has been notified."


Fire crews were at the scene to evacuate the passengers on the plane. (FOX 29)

"Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 landed at Philadelphia International Airport this morning after the crew reported damage to one of the aircraft's engines, as well as fuselage and at least one window," the statement read.

The NTSB is sending a go-team to Philadelphia to investigate the incident.

The Philadelphia International Airport tweeted passengers "should expect delays" following the incident.

"Flight from LGA [LaGuardia] to Dallas Love Field landed safely at PHL [Philadelphia] and passengers are being brought into the terminal. Flights are departing and arriving but passengers should expect delays. Check flight status with your airline," the airport tweeted.

Boeing Airplanes tweeted the company was aware of the incident and was "gathering more information" "to provide [with] technical assistance."

It was the first death stemming from an in-flight accident on a U.S. airliner since 2009, when 49 people on board and one on the ground were killed in the crash of a Continental Express plane near Buffalo, New York.

Southwest has about 700 planes, all of them 737s, including more than 500 737-700s like the one involved in Tuesday's emergency landing. It is the world's largest operator of the 737, which is the best-selling jetliner in the world and has a good safety record.

 

The Associated Press report