Southwest Airlines said it hasn’t found any additional evidence of the metal fatigue on jet engine fan blades that led to last week’s fatal accident after inspecting 8,500 of the components.
“With the inspections we have stepped up since last week, we have had no findings at this point, which is obviously what we would expect,” Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said in a quarterly earnings call with analysts today.
Responding to last week’s fatal accident on Southwest Flight 1380, the airline has been racing to inspect fan blades on the engine model that failed. It has about 35,500 fan blades in its fleet, 17,000 of which were inspected before the accident. Since speeding up checks after an emergency inspection order last week, the company has about 10,000 more to look at, according to Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven.
The inspections of one of the most common jet engines in the world were carried out under an emergency directive issued Friday by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in the wake of last week’s fatal accident in which a fan blade cracked and sent metal fragments flying, triggering an explosive decompression on the plane. A New Mexico woman was partially sucked through a window and died.
Inspections were originally triggered by a similar 2016 engine failure on a Southwest plane that also caused it to lose pressure, but no one was injured. Southwest said it found one cracked blade last year and removed it.
The engine is the CFM56-7B made by CFM International Inc., a partnership between General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA.
Southwest expects to have inspected all its CFM56-7B engines, not just those covered under the emergency order, within 30 days.
CFM issued a release today saying that 60 percent of the approximately 680 engines covered under the order issued by FAA and other nations’ aviation regulators had been inspected.