One Southwest Airlines passenger suffered fatal injuries when one of the plane’s engines exploded Tuesday, shattering a window and part of the plane’s fuselage.
The Southwest Airlines flight had departed from New York’s LaGuardia Airport about 30 minutes before the engine failure. The incident forced the plane with 148 people aboard to make an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport.
Seven other people were reportedly injured on the flight. According to Bloomberg, “the dead passenger was not identified but other passengers reported a woman being severely injured during the flight receiving aid from other passengers in a chaotic and bloody scene.”
NBC 10 Philadelphia interviewed a witness who said the woman had been partially “drawn out” of the airplane window after engine debris smashed through it, creating a pressure vacuum.
Various reports say the left engine of the Boeing 737-700 was blown open with heavy damage to the surrounding area of the plane.
Witnesses reported that the Southwest Airlines flight was uneventful until an explosion blew open the window and caused the cabin to lose pressure. Passengers used the oxygen masks that dropped from the ceiling after the engine blast.
The Southwest Airlines plane was headed to Dallas. The plane landed in Philadelphia after 11 a.m.
Some passengers described thinking the plane would probably crash and using the onboard wi-fi to message loved ones.
“When we saw that [the flight attendants] started crying, of course we thought we were in a really bad place. We were going down,” a passenger told Bloomberg. “I kind of just felt like it was over. We’re flying at 30,000 feet going 500 miles an hour.”
Reports of the extensive damage the engine failure caused to the body of the aircraft indicate it was an “uncontained failure.” Bloomberg noted that federal regulations require engines to be covered in tough casings that prevent metal shrapnel from an engine explosion from piercing fuel tanks and passenger areas.
The engine was a CFM56-7B engine made by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co. and Safran SA of France. The company has sent technicians to Philadelphia to examine the plane.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has sent a crew to Philadelphia to start an investigation. According to NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt, the passenger’s death Tuesday was the first passenger death on a U.S. registered passenger jet in nearly a decade.
The last fatal accident on a U.S. passenger carrier occurred near Buffalo, New York in February 2009, when a commuter plane operated by Colgan Air crashed, killing 49 on board and a man on the ground.