MIAMI, 28 Aug 2016:
Passengers on board Southwest Airline Flight 3472 from New Orleans to Orlando had a harrowing experience yesterday when one of the Boeing 737-700 aircraft’s engines fell apart while flying over the Gulf of Mexico.
New York Daily News reported passengers “heard a frightening blast to the aircraft’s left at an altitude of 30,700 feet. Outside their windows, they saw smoke fuming from the exposed turbine blades at around 9:20am”.
The paper reported that the pilots managed to stabilise the aircraft and made the quick-thinking decision to divert the flight to Pensacola with only one working engine.
“By 9:40am, the plane was on the ground without any further mishap.” All 99 passengers and five crew members on board landed safely with no injuries.
Chunks of the engine’s cowling had fallen off, according to photos taken from the aircraft’s window midflight, the paper added. Another photo shows a metal object had pierced the fuselage and the tail.
Airline spokesman Chris Mainz said there was no explosion. He said Southwest will work with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause.
It’s rare for Southwest or any other major airline to have such serious engine trouble, said Michael Boyd, president of airline consulting firm Boyd International.
“It’s a one-off, almost unheard of. Southwest has an outstanding safety record because it spends a lot of money on maintenance.”