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Engine maker urges rapid inspections after Southwest failure

© National Transportation Safety Board/AFP | National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine damage to a Southwest Airlines plane that suffered catastrophic engine failure on April 17, 2018, killing a mother of two and forcing an emergency landing

NEW YORK (AFP) - 

The maker of a jet engine that ruptured during a recent Southwest Airlines flight, leaving one passenger dead, called Friday for rapid inspections of all of its engines powering Boeing 737 aircraft.

CFM International, a joint venture between America's GE Aviation and France's Safran Aircraft Engines, said it "recommends ultrasonic inspections within the next 20 days to fan blades of CFM56-7B engines with more than 30,000 cycles since new."

About 680 engines are concerned, according to CFM, which noted that each inspection takes about four hours. Some 150 of the engines have already gone through the process.

A cycle concerns a complete flight, from engine start to takeoff and landing to complete shutdown.

"After first inspection, operators are recommended to repeat the inspection every 3,000 cycles, which typically represents about two years in airline service," CFM added.

The company also recommended that fan blades with more than 20,000 cycles be inspected by the end of August -- affecting an additional 2,500 engines.

Around 60 airlines use the CFM56-7B, according to the company, which said GE and Safran have mobilized some 500 technicians "to support customers and minimize operational disruptions" related to the inspections.

The directive comes after the left engine of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 suddenly blew apart during a Tuesday flight from New York to Dallas.

The shrapnel shattered a window and depressurized the cabin, partially sucking a woman out of the plane.

Fellow passengers pulled the passenger -- identified as Jennifer Riordan, 43 -- back in, but she later died of her injuries. The plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

A first inspection of the Boeing 737's damaged engine showed that an engine fan blade was missing, apparently broken due to metal fatigue, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Federal Aviation Administration, a regulatory authority, said Wednesday it would publish "within two weeks" a mandatory directive for the engines.

© 2018 AFP