Engine Trouble? What Engine Trouble?

Save for this tiny story on KXAS-Channel 5's Web site, there's been no mention, far as I can find, of Southwest Airlines Flight 438's engine troubles, which occurred on November 17. The flight, which originated from Love Field, was bound for Little Rock, but turned around 30 minutes after takeoff after the pilot reported feeling vibrations. No kidding.

Today, Flightstory, an aviation blog, has not only the entire story, but also what it claims are several pictures of the plane -- with an enormous gash in the side of the right engine. A couple of folks who claim to have been passengers on the flight have also posted, with one insisting, "We all thought we were going to die!" Over here, there's a lengthy discussion about what caused the problem -- a fan blade, looks like.

Sounds like too: According to Kevin Cokely's Channel 5 story, Southwest sent a letter to the 133 passengers on board that read, "The fan blades on the front of the engine were damaged, and rattled around the engines intake area," which punctured the acoustical cover. According to the official FAA report, "ENGINE SUSTAINED UNKNOWN DAMAGE." --Robert Wilonsky


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1 comments
philcoop8192
philcoop8192

That was more than just a fan blade or two getting "damaged".  It may have been only one fan blade, but from the photo it is obvious the blade broke off and punched through the cowling.  Luckily, it was on the outboard side of the engine, because had it been on the inboard side, the blade might well have penetrated the cabin, at the very least leading to depressurization, and at worst, injuring or killing passengers.

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