Airlines race to inspect similar engines after Southwest explosion — there are at least 8,000
A faulty plane engine that led to a fatal incident and emergency landing this week has prompted airlines around the world to take stock of their own aircraft.
Tuesday’s incident, which involved a Southwest Airlines flight carrying 149 passengers, was caused by a CFM56-7B engine that blew and broke windows. One woman was killed after being partially sucked out of a window opening.
While an investigation into the incident has not concluded, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it appears that metal fatigue was to blame for the broken engine.
WATCH: Was the Southwest Airline incident preventable?
Similar 2016 incident
It has emerged that a similar incident occurred on a Southwest flight in 2016, and was also blamed on metal fatigue. Both incidents involved an engine fan blade being detached.
“In aviation, there should be inspection techniques and procedures in place to detect something like (metal fatigue),” said NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt, according to CNN. “What we want to find out is why was this not detected ahead of time.”
The Associated Press reported Thursday that engine manufacturers pushed the airline to check fan blades within 12 months following the 2016 incident, but Southwest said it needed more time.
The incident also prompted other industry groups to call for inspections.
WATCH: Flight attendants urge calm on tense Southwest flight
How many of these engines are there?
According to the engine’s manufacturer, CFM International, there are more than 8,000 CFM56-7B engines currently in use on Boeing 737 aircrafts.
The company’s website boasts that makes it “the most popular engine-aircraft combination in commercial aviation.”
Canadian airlines respond to incident
In an email to Global News, Air Canada explained that it is not affected by this issue.
“Air Canada does not have this type of engine in its fleet, nor do we operate this particular model of aircraft,” the statement read.
Porter Airlines gave a similar statement: “No, we don’t use those engines, so there is no action required.”
WestJet, however, said that is it has been inspecting CFM56-7 engines since a 2017 directive from the European Aviation Safety Authority urged airlines to do so by next year. Following this week’s incident, it will “accelerate” the process.
The Calgary-based airline added that less than 20 per cent of its Boeing 737NG aircraft have the fan blades in question.
“All WestJet aircraft have regularly scheduled maintenance checks that are compliant with regulations and completed based on time and usage,” it added.
WATCH: Southwest Airlines says it’s not aware of issues with plane involved in emergency landing
Airlines around the world inspect their aircrafts
Southwest is among the airlines promising to inspect its machines in wake of the fatal incident. On Thursday, the FAA ordered the airline to inspect at least 220 engines.
Korean Air Lines said on Wednesday it planned to carry out voluntary inspections of engines used on its entire Boeing 737 fleet by November.
Japan Airlines said two Boeing 737 jets in its fleet had engines with affected fan blades, and inspections were due to be completed on Wednesday.
Dubai-based budget carrier flydubai said it had implemented the European directive ahead of the deadline.
Ireland’s Ryanair, which is Europe’s largest Boeing 737 operator, said fewer than 70 of its 440 planes were fitted with identical CFM56-7B engines and that all had been inspected.
Not all airlines operating the planes are affected.
— With files from Reuters, The Associated Press