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Plane death: Southwest to examine all related engines

Southwest Airlines is speeding up its investigations of related engines after a woman was killed when one exploded and broke apart in mid air.

Jennifer Riordan, 43, died after an engine on Southwest Flight 1380 ripped apartand debris smashed a window, causing her to be partly sucked out of the aircraft.

Witnesses says Mrs Riordan, who was a mother-of-two, was out of the aircraft to her waist after the window broke.

The aircraft made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

A statement posted online by the airline read: "Southwest Airlines today has announced that it is accelerating its existing engine inspection program relating to the CFM56 engine family.

Video:Workers check damage to Southwest engine

"The accelerated inspections are being performed out of an abundance of caution and are expected to be completed over the next 30 days. The accelerated checks are ultrasonic inspections of fan blades of the CFM56 engines.

"The airline expects minimal disruption to the operation during the course of the inspections."

Pilot Tammie Jo Schults with members of the cabin crew on the plane in Philadelphia
Image:Pilot Tammie Jo Schults with members of the cabin crew on the plane in Philadelphia

It advised customers with flights booked to check the website for the status of their trip.

Pilot Tammie Jo Shults has been praised for her "nerves of steel" after safely landing the stricken commercial flight.

Ms Shults, 56, was one of the first female pilots in the US navy, where she flew F-18 jets later used in the Gulf War and Iraq War.

Jennifer Riordan. Pic: Facebook
Image:Jennifer Riordan. Pic: Facebook

There were 144 passengers and five crew on board the flight, from New York City to Dallas.

:: Woman sucked from plane: Hero pilot who has been praised for her 'nerves of steel' was US navy trailblazer

A CFM statement after the Southwest announcement confirmed: "GE and Safran Aircraft Engines technicians (about 40 in total) are being deployed to support Southwest Airlines' (SWA) accelerated inspection program related to the CFM56-7B engine, which powers most of the airline's Next-Generation 737 fleet.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the ultrasonic inspections are being conducted on a population of fan blades.

Southwest Airlines passenger films emergency landing inside the cabin
Video:Passenger films plane emergency

"Working with Boeing, GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, SWA expects the accelerated inspections to be completed over the next 30 days.

"The CFM56-7B engine is produced by CFM International, a 50/50 joint company of GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.

"CFM has sent a team of technical representatives to the site to assist the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in its investigation of Tuesday's event involving a CFM56-7B engine on a SWA Boeing 737-700 during a flight from New York to Dallas.

Tammie Jo Shults
Video:Woman sucked from plane: Hero pilot who has been praised for her 'nerves of steel' was US navy trailblazer

"CFM will support the NTSB and Southwest Airlines in determining the cause of the accident. CFM and its parent companies, GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, will make every resource necessary available to ensure support."

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said a preliminary investigation found an engine fan blade was missing, having apparently broken and there was metal fatigue at the point where it would usually be attached.

A passenger posted a photo of the damaged engine. Pic: @joeasaprap
Image:A passenger posted a photo of the damaged engine. Pic: @joeasaprap

Mr Sumwalt said the full investigation would take between 12 and 15 months.

More from US

In August 2016, a Southwest flight made a safe emergency landing in Florida after a fan blade separated from the same type of engine.

The US Federal Aviation Administration proposed similar fan blades should undergo ultrasonic inspections and be replaced if they failed that year.

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