NEW YORK, U.S. - Following the fatal mid-air engine explosion that punctured the window of a Southwest Airlines flight, killing a passenger, U.S. aviation authorities have launched an investigation to inspect jet engines.
On Tuesday, Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, en route from New York to Dallas with 149 people on board, was forced to make an emergency landing at Philadelphia airport.
A 43-year-old mother-of-two and executive for Wells Fargo bank in Albuquerque, New Mexico Jennifer Riordan was killed in the incident.
According to authorities, shrapnel from the shredded engine smashed the window next to her causing rapid decompression in the cabin that nearly blasted her out of the jet.
While other passengers pulled her back in and tried to revive her, she died from her injuries.
On Wednesday, Philadelphia's medical examiner said that Riordan died of blunt impact trauma to her head, neck and torso.
Officials said that seven other passengers were slightly injured.
Meanwhile, Capt Tammie Jo Shults was hailed as a hero by passengers on the stricken flight and she and First Officer Darren Ellisor issued a written statement released by the airline, that read, "As captain and first officer of the crew of five who worked to serve our customers aboard Flight 1380 yesterday, we all feel we were simply doing our jobs. Our hearts are heavy."
They added in the statement that they were working with investigators and would not be talking to the media.
According to an initial investigation released by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), evidence of metal fatigue where a fan blade had broken off was found.
Addressing reporters, Chairman Robert Sumwalt said that the fan blade had a second fracture about halfway along its length.
He however, said that he could not say if the incident indicated a fleet-wide issue with the Boeing 737-700.
Sumwalt added that a casing on the engine is meant to contain any parts that come loose but, due to the speed, the metal was able to penetrate the shell.
Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Thursday that its order for engine inspections would be issued within the next two weeks.
It explained that the "airworthiness directive" will require inspections of a large number of CFM56-7B engines.
It said that fan blades that have undergone a certain number of flights will be given ultrasonic tests.
The airline manufacturer has said that the CFM56-7B engine is in use on more than 8,000 Boeing 737 planes worldwide.
The FAA has not commented on how many engines would be inspected but said that any fan blades that failed the inspection would have to be replaced.
Last year, the FAA had estimated that some 220 of these engines would require testing, having carried out a certain number of flights.
According to reports, in 2016, an eerily similar incident occurred involving a Southwest flight and the same type of engine.
Now, the Southwest Airlines has said that it has began speeding up inspections of the same type of engine as the one at the center of the midair explosion.