In September 2016, a Southwest flight suffered a similar engine explosion that resulted from a broken fan blade and tore a almost foot-long hole into the wing of the aircraft, which forced to make an emergency landing.
The CFM56-7B is made by CFM International Inc., a joint venture between General Electric Co. and Safran SA. It broke the engine apart and sent metal parts slamming into the 737.
Bank executive Jennifer Riordan died after being sucked half-out of a United States passenger jet flying at 32,000 feet when shrapnel from a blown engine smashed a cabin window.
Sumwalt said the fan blade, after suffering metal fatigue where it attached to the engine hub, has a second fracture about halfway along its length. This parallels a similar incident on a Southwest flight in 2016, where a turbine blade snapped off, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. No pieces of the engine have been discovered inside the plane, Sumwalt said.
Following the fatal engine failure on a 737 Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration is poised to issue an emergency airworthiness directive calling for stepped up inspections of the CFM56-7B engine manufactured by CFM International. The inspections must be conducted using ultrasonic sensors created to detect cracks beneath the surface of the fan blades.
Federal investigators are still trying to determine how the window came out of the plane.
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Robert Clifford, a lawyer who is suing American Airlines over another engine explosion that caused a fire that destroyed the plane, said the FAA should have required the inspections - even if it meant grounding Boeing 737s.
Southwest declined to provide the plane's maintenance records to The Associated Press, but a spokeswoman said that the failed engine had experienced no unscheduled maintenance in the last 60 days.
Pieces of the engine including its cowling - the smooth metal exterior that covers its inner workings - were found about 60 miles (97 km) from Philadelphia airport, Sumwalt said. Late Wednesday, the agency announced plans to complete that process by requiring inspections on the engines. Check is planned more than 200 engines, the inspection will be conducted approximately six months.
In a separate case that prompted NTSB recommendations on engine safety last January, an American Airlines 767 was accelerating for takeoff when one of its jets exploded, creating a fuel leak and a fire that melted the left wing on October 28, 2016.
Philadelphia's medical examiner said the banking executive and mother of two from Albuquerque, New Mexico, died from blunt impact injuries to her head, neck and torso.
The Southwest CEO protested that it is too soon to say whether Tuesday's accident is related to any other engine failures.