The National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States, have called for Boeing to redesign the engine cowling on it’s 737 Next Generation (NG) aircraft. The recommendation comes after a tragic accident last year, which involved a passenger being sucked out of a window after a fan blade hit the fuselage.
The incident, which happened in April of last year (2018), on Southwest flight 1380 from LaGuardia airport New York City to Dallas Texas involved a fan blade of the CFM-56 engine coming off in flight. The fan blade caused a rapid decompression after it shattered a window. 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan who was sitting in the seat where the window shattered was sucked out partially due to the sudden pressure change in the cabin.
Thankfully despite the conditions within the cabin due to the decompression, passengers did manage to pull her back inside although she later died in hospital from blunt impact trauma.
During the investigation, the NTSB said that the engine fan blades were 18 years old at the time of the incident and had more than 32,000 flights on them. The investigation also found cracks in one of the blades which had not been found during the last overhaul although the NTSB was able to confirm that they were indeed there at the time of overhaul.
Chairman of the NTSB Robert Sumwalt said in a statement:
Engine and aircraft manufacturers should develop stronger designs for engine casing to prevent broken fan blades from causing such a tragedy again. Older aircraft of the same model should then be retrofitted with the new design, he said.
The NTSB has only issued the fan case design as a recommendation, and no grounding of the 737NG fleet will be taking place (at least for the moment). The issue also does not affect the already grounded 737-MAX family of aircraft, who use a completely different engine design. Fan blade inspections are now taking place much more frequently, with a time between inspection of between nine to twelve months.
What are your thoughts on this? Are we beginning to see a demise in Boeing, or can the manufacturer redeem itself? Let us know down below.