In what had to be a shocking flight for a Dallas-bound plane of passengers this morning, an engine blew, breaking a window and almost resulting in a woman almost being pulled out of the jet.
Everyone got back to earth in an emergency landing in Philadelphia, although the woman was brought to a hospital and there was "blood everywhere," according to a passenger quoted by CBS News.
[Update: The passenger died after treatment at a hospital. This is the first passenger death in Southwest's history.]
And this is with an airline that had a great safety record, although it reportedly has seen a number of malfunctions during recent years. They include a 2016 flight from New Orleans to Orlando during which an engine blew out, requiring an emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida. In February 2018, passengers had to leave a Southwest craft in California before the flight departed because of a cabin fire.
Southwest Flight WN1380, a Boeing 737-700 with 143 passengers and a crew of five took off from New York's La Guardia Airport at 10:27 this morning. At some point after reaching an estimated height of 32,500 feet, according to NBC10 News in Philadelphia, the left engine blew, with shrapnel making holes in the fuselage and at least one window behind the left wing.
A person receiving information from his daughter, who was on the flight, told NBC10 News that a woman was partly pulled out of the plane. (Low pressure at high altitude would cause the cabin pressure to push things out through the window.) Reportedly, other passengers were able to pull her back inside.
The crew brought the plane down in a moderate descent of 3,000 feet a minute until it reached 10,000 feet. The pilot brought the aircraft into Philadelphia at about 11:20 a.m.
At 12:35 p.m., the FAA ordered a ground stop, which means no other planes were allowed to land at the airport until the measure was lifted at 1:45 p.m.
Some passengers shared pictures of the broken window.
The engine was a CFM56-7B, made by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and Safran SA of France, according to a statement from the company. The engines are the only brand used in the 737-700. CFM said that it had sent a technical representative to examine the engine and plane and that it will work with the National Transportation Safety Board and Southwest. The engine is used in "6,700 aircraft worldwide" and has "has accumulated more than 350 million flight hours."
The incident clearly was far from normal, and your chance of getting hurt in a car is higher. But there are a number of sources of airline safety information, as CNN reports, and the site AirlineRatings has safety ratings for many airlines, along with an explanation of its rating criteria.
For the rest of the business world, this should be a strong reminder to never view equipment maintenance and repair as a cost you want to avoid and to remember that, no matter how well things seem to go, terrible problems can arise.
Whether your business owns factory equipment, trucks, tools, or aircraft, preventative maintenance should happen on a regular basis and not with an eye to cutting corners. Not only is people's welfare at stake, but so are your productivity, revenue, and profits. Things can grind to a halt when necessary equipment isn't in working order. For everyone's sake, and that of your business, keep all the machinery in top working condition.