FAA to require tests on engine type that exploded during Southwest flight

Key Points
  • FAA had first proposed more stringent checks last year.
  • A Southwest plane had a similar issue in 2016.
  • The measure will be in place within two weeks, the FAA said.
U.S. NTSB investigators are on scene examining damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane in this image released from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 17, 2018.
NTSB | Reuters

The type of engine that exploded on a Southwest Airlines plane this week will be subject to more stringent tests within two weeks, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.

The FAA will issue an "airworthiness directive" about some CFM56-7B engines. The engine type experienced an uncontained failure on a Southwest flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday morning. One of the engines on Southwest Flight 1380 lost a fan blade, federal transportation safety investigators said Tuesday. One passenger was killed in the incident, in which shrapnel from the Boeing 737-700 aircraft punctured the fuselage.

The engines, made by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric and France's Safran Aircraft Engines, are among the most commonly used around the world. The FAA had increased its scrutiny of the engines last year, proposing more testing, after a Southwest flight in 2016 experienced engine failure similar to the incident on Tuesday.

The federal government will require ultrasonic testing of engine fan blades, when they've been flown a certain number of times, the FAA said. The National Transportation Safety Board said a fan blade was missing from the engine involved in Tuesday's incident.

"Any blades that fail the inspection will have to be replaced," it said in a statement.