NTSB / Reuters
- Europe orders emergency inspections of the type of engine that malfunctioned on a Southwest Airlines flight this week.
- Planes with the CFM56-7B engine must be inspected in the next 20 days if the engine has been in service for around 20 years.
- Some 352 engines in the US and 681 engines worldwide are eligible for emergency inspections.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has joined US authorities in ordering an emergency inspection of the type of engine that malfunctioned on a Southwest Airlines flight this week to deadly effect.
In a statement on Saturday, EASA ordered investigations of CFM56-7B enginesafter a fan blade on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 snapped off mid-flight, spraying shrapnel that punctured the aircraft's fuselage causing depressurization. Passenger Jennifer Riordan was killed.
It is an expansion of a previous EASA directive in 2016, issued for inspections on the same engine. Engines that contain fan blades that have completed more than 30,000 "cycles," or have been in service for around 20 years, must be inspected in the next 20 days, according to EASA.
Similar tests are being carried out in the US. America's Federal Aviation Administration said it expects 352 engines in the US and 681 engines worldwide to be eligible for emergency inspections.
The CFM56-7B debuted in 1997 and currently powers more than 6,700 planes in the world. It is the product of a 40-year-old joint venture between GE Aviation and France's Safran Aircraft Engines called CFM International.
Several major airline officials said the order will primarily impact airlines with higher utilisation of aircraft covering shorter routes like Southwest, according to Reuters.