'There's a hole and someone went out': Audio released of Southwest Flight 1380 emergency
Conversations between the cockpit of Southwest Flight 1380 and air traffic controllers reveal the moment crews were notified of the extent of the damage after the jet blew an engine, resulting in the death of one passenger.
Jennifer Riordan was killed Tuesday after she was partially sucked out a window that had been smashed by debris from a blown engine on the Southwest flight, forcing the jet to make an emergency landing.
The plane, carrying 144 passengers and five crew members, was flying from New York’s La Guardia Airport to Dallas when part of the left engine cover ripped off and a window was damaged. The pilots took the plane into a rapid descent and made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.
“Is your airplane physically on fire?” air traffic control asks a pilot.
“No, it’s not on fire but part of it is missing,” Tammie Jo Shults responds. “They said there’s a hole and someone went out.”
Air traffic control asked the pilot for clarification.
“Umm, I’m sorry, you said there’s a hole and somebody went out?” he asks.
Southwest Airlines chief executive Gary Kelly said at a press conference Tuesday night he was not aware of any prior issues with the aircraft or the engine. He also said the aircraft was last inspected on April 15, just two days before the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent a team of investigators to Philadelphia and NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said late Tuesday that one of the engine’s fan blades was separated and missing. The blade was separated at the point where it would come into the hub and there was evidence of metal fatigue, Sumwalt said.
Photos of the plane on the tarmac showed a missing window and a chunk gone from the left engine, including part of its cover.
A passenger described hearing an explosion when the engine failed, and then rushing to help Riordan who was partially out the broken window.
“We tried to get her back in,” Tim McGinty said. “I wasn’t strong enough and a fireman…jumped in there and helped. Between the two us we were able to get her back in.
“It was the strangest thing ever,” McGinty said.
–with files from the Associated Press