A passenger has died and several others were injured after an engine on a Southwest Airlines aircraft reportedly exploded, blowing a hole in the fuselage.
Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International airport on Tuesday after “issues with the number one engine resulted in damage to the fuselage”.
Eyewitnesses reported the blast smashed a window causing the cabin to depressurise, partially sucking a woman, named locally as Jennifer Riordan, out of the aircraft.
Her fellow passengers were able to pull her back into the cabin but she later died from her injuries, the airline confirmed.
The Boeing 737-800 took off from New York LaGuardia and was en route to Dallas Love Field. There were 144 customers on board and five members of crew.
Images from the scene show the engine burned out, missing part of its casing. There is also significant damage to the fuselage beneath the port wing.
An air traffic control recording detailing the planes approach to Philly, released by NBC news, documents pilot Tammie Jo Shults’ efforts to guide the aircraft in safely.
She described how “part of the aircraft” was missing, adding “there is a hole and someone went out”.
Southwest, the US Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have all launched investigations.
NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said an initial investigation found an engine fan blade missing and evidence of metal fatigue. The engine covering was found around 70 miles from the airport.
Sumwalt said the engine was a “widely used” CFM56. Southwest has said it would inspect all CFM56 engines over the next month.
In a statement, Southwest said its thoughts were with Riordan’s family and all those affected by the incident.
“The entire Southwest Airlines family is devastated and extends its deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the customers, employees, family members and loved ones affected by this tragic event,” it read.
“We have activated our emergency response team and are deploying every resource to support those affected by this tragedy.”
The Philadelphia fire department confirmed a further seven people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
It is the first death on a commercial US flight since 2009.