According to reports, emergency inspections will be carried out on hundreds of aircraft worldwide after an explosion aboard a Southwest Airlines flight that led to the death of a passenger.

Federal Aviation Administration made the announcement after a woman was almost sucked out of a window on a flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday, after “an engine failure due to a fractured fan blade”.

It was believed that Metal fatigue led to a piece of a fan blade coming loose, according to investigators, which then smashed through the engine casing. Debris shattered a passenger window, which in turn led to decompression.

The authority fears the same problem could happen to other aircraft with the same engine model, and have ordered for almost 700 planes to be inspected, about half of which are in the US.
In an Emergency Airworthiness Directive, the FAA said: “Fan blade failure due to cracking, if not addressed, could result in an engine in-flight shutdown (IFSD), uncontained release of debris, damage to the engine, damage to the airplane, and possible airplane decompression.”

It added that “the unsafe condition is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design”.

The Southwest flight in question was on a Boeing Model 737-700 airplane powered by CFM56-7B model engines.

The FAA has now ordered for all engines of this type with more than 30,000 total cycles to be inspected within 20 days.

Evaluating what went wrong aboard the ill-fated Southwest flight, the investigators said the failure led to “the engine inlet cowl disintegrating” and debris penetrating the fuselage “causing a loss of pressurization and prompting an emergency descent.”