FILE- In this April 17, 2018, file photo a Southwest Airlines plane sits on the runway at the Philadelphia International Airport after it made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. In new accounts released Wednesday, Nov. 14, into the April accident, the flight attendants described being unable to bring the woman back in the plane until two male passengers stepped in to help. The flight attendants told investigators at least one of the men put his arm out of the window and wrapped it around the woman’s shoulder to help pull her back in. (David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

NTSB to probe fatal engine failure on Southwest flight

November 14, 2018 - 10:57 am

There was a loud bang, and suddenly the Southwest Airlines jet rolled 41 degrees to the left. Smoke began to fill the cabin, and flight attendants rushed row by row to make sure all passengers could get oxygen from their masks.

When flight attendant Rachel Fernheimer got to row 14, she saw a woman still restrained by her lap belt but with her head, torso and arm hanging out a window.

Fernheimer grabbed one of the woman's legs while flight attendant Seanique Mallory grabbed her lower body.

The new accounts of the harrowing April incident were released as the National Transportation Safety Board began a hearing Wednesday into the engine failure on Southwest Flight 1380, which carried 144 passengers and five crew members.

The flight attendants described being unable to bring the woman back in the plane until two male passengers stepped in to help. They told investigators at least one of the men put his arm out of the window and wrapped it around the woman's shoulder to help pull her back in. Fernheimer said when she looked out the window, she could see that one of the plane's engines was shattered, and there was blood on the outside of the aircraft.

The passenger in the window seat, Jennifer Riordan, was fatally injured — the first death on a U.S. airline flight since 2009. Eight other passengers including at least one of the men who helped pull Riordan back in the window, suffered minor injuries.

Pilots Tammie Jo Shults and Darren Ellisor made an emergency landing of the crippled Boeing 737-700 in Philadelphia.

The accident was triggered by an engine fan blade that broke off. A piece of engine cover struck and broke the window next to Riordan, a 43-year-old mother of two from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Wednesday's hearing in Washington focused on design and inspection of fan blades on the engine, made by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric and France's Safran S.A.

After the accident, CFM recommended more advanced and frequent blade inspections, and regulators made those changes mandatory.

Representatives from CFM, Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration were also expected to be questioned about design of the engine housing, which is supposed to prevent pieces from breaking loose.

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