Chicago (CBS) – Texas Firefighter, Andrew Needum, was on the plane that had to make an emergency landing after a Southwest plane’s engine exploded, killing one passenger on board.
“I felt a calling to get up and do something, to stand up and act,” says Needum.
Needum was one of several passengers who helped pull Jennifer Riordan back inside the Southwest jetliner after shrapnel from an exploding engine shattered the window she was sitting beside. An autopsy reports Riordan died from blunt impact trauma to her upper body.
“I feel for her family, her two kids, her husband, the community they live in. I can’t image what they are going through,” Needum says.
The FAA has ordered all airlines to inspect hundreds of jet engines similar to the ones that exploded after a titanium fan blade in the engine snapped off.
“The largest stresses, the largest loads are located along the base of the blade, so that is more likely where the crack initiated and caused failure,” tells Professor Sammy Tin of the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Tin says one of two issues likely led to the engine failure, “Something that may have been trapped in the material during the manufacturing process that wasn’t noticed, or there was just damage due to regular use that was not caught during inspection.”
The engine cover, or cowling, is supposed to contain the shrapnel in case an engine disintegrates. In this incident, it did not. The NTSB and FAA are still investigating.