Colianni & Leonard LLC

Call Us412-680-7877

925 Park Plaza, Wexford, PA 15090

Airplane Engine Failure Kills One Passenger, Forces Emergency Landing

 Posted on April 19, 2018 in Personal Injury

Pittsburgh personal injury attorneysFederal investigators are combing regions of eastern Pennsylvania for pieces of an airplane this week, following an explosive, mid-air engine failure that left one passenger dead and many others shaken. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board said that debris and engine components fell from the sky along the plane’s flight path as it headed for an emergency landing in Philadelphia on Tuesday. They are asking for the general public’s help in locating all of the pieces so that a full investigation into the fatal accident can be completed.

A Deadly Incident

The failure took place shortly after takeoff on a Southwest Airlines flight headed from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Dallas Love Field. The aircraft had just passed 32,500 feet and was still climbing over the Allentown area of Pennsylvania when officials say that a fan blade in the left engine broke loose. The broken blade caused a violent chain reaction which sent parts and debris flying. One piece of shrapnel shattered a window overlooking the wing, and the woman in the closest seat was violently sucked into the hole. Other passengers pulled the woman back into the plane, but her injuries proved to be fatal. She died at a Philadelphia-area hospital later the same day.

Captain Tammie Jo Shults—a former military pilot and one of the first women to fly the Navy’s F/A 18-Hornet—and First Officer Darren Ellisor rerouted the crippled aircraft and requested emergency clearance to land in Philadelphia. The crew was able to get the airplane safely to the ground with no other serious injuries.

Metal Fatigue Inside a Jet Engine

The passenger’s death on this flight was the first fatality involving an American-based airline in just over nine years—the longest death-free stretch in U.S. airline history. Modern airliners are capable of flying with just a single engine, especially over land, but in this case, the engine did not just fail, it blew apart and punched a hole in the passenger cabin. The investigation into the accident is still in its preliminary stages but officials believe that fatigued piece of metal is what lead to the uncontained engine failure.

The engine in question is one of the most popular commercial jet engines in the world, with more than 8,000 currently in service globally. Investigators say that one of the turbine engine’s 24 fan blades was missing and that there were signs of metal fatigue where the blade attached to the engine hub. Fan blades inside the engine spin thousands of times per minute to generate power for the aircraft. Under intense heat and pressure, the blades can become fatigued, wear out, and break away.

There are maintenance protocols and high-tech machines designed to detect metal fatigue before it causes an in-flight tragedy. It is not yet certain why or how such preventive measures failed in this week’s incident.

Airline Accident Injuries

Over the past year or so, there have been a number of high-profile, injury-causing incidents on airplanes around the country. If you or someone you love has suffered any type of injury while traveling by air, contact an experienced Allegheny County personal injury attorney. We will review your case and help you determine your best course of action for moving forward. Call 718-494-7100 for a free consultation at Colianni & Leonard LLC today.



Share this post:
Back to Top