The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that Boeing redesign the engine covers on thousands of planes after an engine explosion resulted in a passenger’s death on a Southwest Airlines flight last year.
It was the first accident-related death on a U.S. airline in more than nine years.
The April 2018 incident left 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan dead after she was blown partly out of the plane when a piece of the engine flew into and shattered the window next to her. Eight others were injured on the flight.
The safety board met Tuesday in Washington to vote on the probable cause of the accident, following an investigative hearing in Nov. 2018.
According to preliminary findings, a fan blade in one engine broke, triggering a chain reaction of events that led to the engine blowing apart while more than 30,000 feet over Pennsylvania.
The 24 fan blades on the Southwest jet had been used on more than 32,000 flights and overhauled twice. The NTSB concluded that the doomed fan blade was already cracked at the time of the last overhaul, but the damage wasn’t spotted using methods then in use.
According to further inspections, 15 other cracked fan blades in engines made by CFM International were discovered on several different airlines.
The NTSB has now recommended engine cover resigns for all new aircraft, as well as for Boeing to retrofit planes with the new engine covers.
It a statement to Fox News, Boeing commended the NTSB for its “thorough investigation into this accident” and addressed actions the company plans on taking.
“Boeing is committed to working closely with the FAA, engine manufacturers, and industry stakeholders to implement enhancements that address the NTSB’s safety recommendations,” the statement read.
Boeing now plans to follow recommendations for future fan blade inspections and introduce enhancements to the engine covers to “increase the overall capability” of the structure, among other actions.
“Our common goal is to help prevent similar events from happening in the future,” the statement read.
“Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Jennifer Riordan, who died from her injuries, with those who were hurt, and with all of those onboard. We are committed to doing our part in making sure an event like this never happens again.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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