A Southwest Airlines aircraft made an emergency landing on Saturday 27th at around 9:40am CDT. There was a loud explosion from the portside (left) engine while the airplane was in midair. The Southwest Flight 3472 was flying from New Orleans, Louisiana to Orlando, Florida and was carrying 104 passengers.
One of the passengers a lady who was traveling with her husband and 3-children says she heard the loud explosion, some vibrations, and saw some smoke coming out of the engine. She was seated next to a window with a good view of the engine. Oxygen masks then came down as the airplane descended. The pilots calmly explained that they had an engine failure and that the aircraft was being diverted to an alternate airport.
There were passengers who were crying and screaming during the incident. The pilots were however reported as cool and professional and worked to ensure passengers stayed calm. Once the situation was stable one of the flight crew came to the cabin to explain what was happening.
The airplane a Boeing 737-700 is powered by two CFM 56-7B26 turbofan engines made by CFM-International. CFM-International is a joint venture between GE of the United States, GE Aviation, and Safran Aircraft Engines (formerly snecma).
The aircraft typically seats 140 passengers in a standard configuration. A statement from Southwest Airlines described the incident as a mechanical engine issue. The Boeing 737 is a short to medium range airplane that has been manufactured since 1966. It has a relatively good safety records amongst jet aircraft.
It is not clear as to what happened at this time. The air inlet on the left engine was completely torn off. Part of the debris was stuck on the engine and was flapping in the wind as the aircraft flew in for landing. The NTSA and FAA are currently investigating the incident.
Photo by Stephanie Miller