Southwest Airlines has canceled dozens of flights and delayed hundreds more on Sunday as some of the airplanes in its fleet undergo engine inspections following Tuesday’s midair explosion that killed one passenger.
The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered the inspections of Southwest plane engines across the country – though the delays and cancellations have thus far only affected a small fraction of the company’s operations nationwide.
‘We don’t have exact cancellation numbers related to fan blade inspections,’ an airline spokesperson told WISN 12 News in Milwaukee on Sunday.
‘We can confirm there are some cancellations and delays related to the inspection work, but the Southwest Team is working diligently to route aircraft proactively and utilize spare aircraft to minimize disruptions to our operations.’
Southwest Airlines has canceled dozens of flights and delayed hundreds more on Sunday as some of the airplanes in its fleet undergo engine inspections following Tuesday’s midair explosion that killed one passenger. A Southwest jet is seen in the above stock image
This harrowing image taken before the plane made its emergency landing shows the state of the exploded engine aboard Southwest Flight 1380 from New York to Dallas on Tuesday
Southwest service has also seen disruptions in Phoenix, a major hub of more than 180 daily nonstop flights to more than 50 cities nationwide.
A handful of early-morning departures from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to cities including San Diego, St. Louis, and Chicago were canceled, The Arizona Republic reported on Sunday.
Overall, Southwest has canceled 48 flights and delayed almost 400, according to FlightAware.
US and European airline regulators on Friday ordered emergency inspections within 20 days of nearly 700 aircraft engines similar to the one involved in a fatal Southwest Airlines.
Jennifer Riordan, a mother-of-two from Albuquerque, died. Southwest Airlines would not reveal on Friday if it had offered her family anything in the form of compensation
The directives by the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency for inspections of CFM56-7B engines, made by CFM International, indicated rising concerns since a similar failure in 2016 of the same type of engine.
The engine explosion on Southwest Airlines flight 1380 on Tuesday was caused by a fan blade that broke off, the FAA said.
The blast shattered a window, killing a passenger, in the first US passenger airline fatality since 2009.
‘The unsafe condition,’ the FAA said in the order, ‘is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same design.’
The inspections ordered are a sharp step-up from actions by both the European and US regulators after a Southwest flight in August 2016 made a safe emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida, after a fan blade separated from the same type of engine and debris ripped a hole above the left wing.
The European agency had given airlines nine months to check engines, while US regulators still were considering what to do.
Ultrasonic inspections on fan blades that have been used in more than 30,000 cycles, or in service for about 20 years, will be required in the next 20 days, the agencies said on Friday. A cycle includes one take-off and landing.
That order will affect about 680 engines globally, including about 350 in the United States, the FAA said.
The engine that blew apart on Tuesday’s Southwest flight would have been affected, since the company said it had 40,000 cycles.
The coordinated 20-day measure partially resolves a gap in previous responses to the 2016 accident by the world’s two largest and most influential aviation regulators, a person familiar with the discussions said and published documents show.
The FAA in August 2017 drafted an order giving airline up to 18 months to carry out checks, but it had not finalized the measure by the time of Tuesday’s fatal second accident.
Southwest Airlines issued this letter to survivors of Flight 1380 this week offering them a $5,000 check and a $1,000 voucher
The EASA had rejected a request by one airline to double the time allowed for checks to 18 months, matching the FAA’s roll-out, saying data did not justify that.
Southwest Airlines is giving passengers on board the disastrous flight in which Jennifer Riordan died when she was sucked out of the window this week $5,000 each and a $1,000 travel voucher.
The airline’s CEO Gary Kelly sent a letter to the 142 passengers who survived, apologizing for the ‘circumstances’ which surrounded the flight and offering their help reuniting them with luggage.
No blame has been assigned to the airline for the engine explosion which sent a piece of shrapnel flying through the window next to Riordan.
It caused the window to smash and Riordan, a 43-year-old mother-of-two was partially sucked through the hole in the plane and died as a result.