Passenger Killed Aboard Southwest Flight

UPDATE: April 26, 2018

UNCONTAINED ENGINE FAILURE is the term you’ve been hearing, and it aptly describes what befell Southwest Airlines flight 1380 on on a flight from New York’s La Guardia Airport to Dallas on April 17th.

Basically, a jet engine can fail one of two ways. The first and more innocuous way is that it simply shuts down and ceases producing thrust. This is more or less akin to switching off the ignition in your car. Of course, all commercial jetliners have at least two engines, and can fly just fine should this happen. In fact, per certification requirements, should an engine quit even at takeoff speed while still on the runway, a plane still has enough power to become airborne and climb safely away — a performance buffer that all pilots are intimately familiar with; the so-called “V-1 cut” being a maneuver we practice regularly in the simulator.

More dangerous is the uncontained engine failure. As the name implies, this type of failure involves the high-velocity ejection of an engine’s internal components. The moving parts of a jet engine consist of a series of shafts and discs — fans, compressors, and turbines — spinning at tremendous speeds. Should any of this machinery fracture or otherwise come apart, whether from an unseen crack or some immediate trauma, the extreme centrifugal forces can send bits of metal straight through the cowling and into the airframe, potentially penetrating the cabin or even the fuel tanks.

Luckily this almost never happens. Aircraft engines are incredibly reliable, and unconfined failures are among the rarest type of malfunction. But when they do happen, the results can be deadly — as was the case aboard the Southwest 737. One passenger, a 43 year-old woman from New Mexico, was killed and several others were injured after shrapnel pierced the cabin and caused a window to blow out. The crew made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

Two years ago, an uncontained engine failure on an American Airlines 767 touched off a fire that destroyed the aircraft on the runway. A similar incident involving a British Airways 777 occurred in Las Vegas in 2015. And in 2010, shrapnel from a failed engine caused a cascade of dangerous system failures aboard Qantas flight QF32, an Airbus A380 flying between Singapore and Sydney.

Nobody was killed in those accidents, but two passengers died in 1996 when an engine turbine disc on a Delta Air Lines MD-88 came apart on a runway in Pensacola, Florida. And, most infamous of all, over a hundred people died in 1989 when United Airlines flight 232 crashed in Sioux City, Iowa, after a fractured engine disc took out all of the widebody DC-10’s hydraulic systems (a disaster due more to a design flaw in the hydraulics system than fault of the engine, but still).

Maybe that all sounds scary — and the media, predictably, is going cuckoo over Southwest. But we’re talking about a small handful of fatalities over more than a quarter of a century. The death of the passenger on Southwest 1380 is the first fatality involving a U.S. major air carrier since 2005, when a Southwest 737 slid from a snowy runway in Chicago and collided with a car, killing a young boy.

The fuselage breach also caused the cabin to rapidly decompress. No doubt you’ve seen the photos of passengers with the plastic oxygen masks clamped to their heads. But although the noise, the masks, and the whole sudden-ness of it was, I’m sure, a scary moment for those on board, this would have been a perfectly manageable secondary problem.

Some decompressions are more hazardous than others. Bombs, for example, can cause an entire fuselage to tear apart in seconds. Large-scale structural failure, like the fuselage burst of an Aloha Airlines 737 in 1988, can be similarly disastrous. But those are rare occurrences. The vast majority of decompressions are harmless. Even sudden decompressions — such as when engine parts tear through a window, as apparently happened on Tuesday — are pretty easy to deal with. The pilots don their oxygen masks and initiate a rapid descent to a safer altitude (normally ten-thousand feet). Passengers, meanwhile, have ample supplemental oxygen if need be. An emergency descent might feel very abrupt, but it’s well within the capabilities of the airplane.

The crew of flight 1380 was essentially dealing with three situations at once: a failed engine, a decompression, and serious injuries to multiple passengers. Compound emergencies are never fun, and the pilots certainly had their hands full. But none of this required any seat-of-the-pants heroics, and despite what you’ve seen online or on TV, the plane was never in any danger of crashing. What to do, and how to do it, would have been pretty straightforward. Put a thousand pilots in that situation and you’d likely have the same outcome each time. They did exactly what they were trained to do, and what they were expected to do.

And on that note, please be wary of passenger accounts cited in the media. Claims that the jet was in “free fall,” was “diving toward the ground,” or was in any way out of control are simply untrue. I don’t blame anybody on the plane for being frightened, but passenger accounts in situations like this — more specifically, the way they are packaged and presented by the media — are notoriously inaccurate and prone to exaggeration, almost to the point of being totally unreliable.


Some follow-up FAQs…

Q: I fail to understand how a passenger wearing a seat belt could have been sucked through the window.

It’s gruesome to think about, but even with your belt on, it’s still possible to be at least partly ejected. The windows are low, and on smaller jets like a 737, you are positioned very close to them. A person’s body can stretch quite a bit, and if the decompression is powerful enough, the head and shoulders (and maybe an arm) could easily be forced through the opening.

Q: I’m curious why they landed in Philadelphia. The flight was very close to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when the problem happened. There is a decent- sized airport at Harrisburg, so why continue all the way to Philadelphia?

From Harrisburg to Philadelphia is less than a hundred nautical miles. In aviation terms that’s nothing. And don’t forget, they needed to descend several thousand feet. They could lose that altitude by spiraling down over Harrisburg, or they could lose it en route to Philadelphia, just a few minutes further away. Meanwhile, PHL has better emergency equipment, better passenger handling facilities, full-time Southwest staff, etc. If the plane had been on fire, sure, the objective would’ve been to get on the ground immediately, regardless of anything else. But this wasn’t that dire an emergency — injuries to the passengers notwithstanding.

Q: The 737 has wing-mounted engines. Does this accident imply that planes with aft-mounted engines are safer?

No, not necessarily. In the story above I reference the two people killed when the engine of an MD-88 came apart. That’s a plane with aft-mounted engines. Even with this type of configuration, the last few rows of seats are often adjacent to or behind the engines’ fan and compressor sections (this is one of the reasons it’s so damn noisy sitting in the back rows on these planes). And although the engines are further from the fuel tanks, they’re closer to the rudder, horizontal stabilizers, elevators, and other important components. It was the tail engine that broke apart on that United DC-10 in 1989, and there were a couple of disasters involving Soviet-built planes with aft-mounted engines (an IL-62 and a Tu-154, I believe) in which uncontained engine failures fatally damaged the tail section.


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131 Responses to “Passenger Killed Aboard Southwest Flight”
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  1. David says:


    The FAA is now conducting a safety review of the cowling (front cover) of the 737 jet engine. The NTSB believes that the cowling was the piece of the engine that struck the window on Southwest flight 1380. The size of a recovered cowling fragment fits scratch marks next to the failed window. Now the FAA is considering whether the cowling should be reinforced to protect it from similar incidents.

  2. Ben says:

    When I hear of uncontained engine failures now I cannot help but feel that modern jet engines are too reliable for their own good now. These events are fortunately extremely rare now, but with rise of ETOPS ratings of 3 hours plus, it is only a matter of time before one of those twin engine aircraft suffers an uncontained engine failure in mid-flight in the middle of the ocean where the failure is too major to make it to a diversion airport. Plane crashes into water almost always kill everyone on board when they happen.

  3. Rfa Renthlei says:

    Interesting to hear and read the stories from the passengers. We can debate back and forth if they were heroes but it obviously Captain Shults and First Officer Ellisor worked incredibly well in tandem to do the things they needed to do to land the aeroplane without further fatalities and should be recognized for their efforts.

  4. David says:

    Update: Southwest has completed the fan blade inspections on the CFM56-7B engines that power its Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 fleets.

    While the current inspection procedure may not completely rule out the possibility of a similar incident ever happening again, it does improve safety and reduces the risk of this type of uncontained engine failure.

    Thankfully we can learn from history and improve maintenance and safety policies to further reduce the risk of aircraft failures. Most of the improvements to aviation safety were lessons learned from experience.

  5. Speed says:

    The NTSB has issued an update. Available at

  6. John Dowing says:

    What might cause an uncommanded left roll of 41.3 degrees (as reported by the NTSB) with the loss of engine #1 and a rapid decompression?

    • Vic says:

      I want to say the right wing sped up relative to the left wing, causing the right wing to rise, causing the roll to left?

    • Speed says:

      When the left engine failed, the aircraft immediately yawed to the left. Due to the wing dihedral (mostly), the yaw increased the angle of attack (and lift) of the right wing and reduced the angle of attack (and lift) of the left wing causing the aircraft to roll left.

  7. arnold s says:

    I was told that jet engines are so expensive that airlines find it best to lease them. If this is true, is it unfair for Southwest to take so much heat for a “rented” engine that came apart?
    Thank you, as always, for such informative articles.

    • Simon says:

      Unfair? It’s the airline that takes the pax’ money so it’s the airline’s responsibility when something goes wrong.

  8. John says:

    Errr, even more innacurrate reporting of his incident from the media.

    Some of the accusations that the “expert” makes in regards to civilian trained pilots border on slanderous. If I was a member of the public who didn’t know any better I’d almost be afraid to step onto a plane piloted by civilian trained pilots. This would be something I’d consider to be worth debunking, because I’ve seen this false idea repeated throughout social media.

    “”I think the common thread here is both these pilots were trained by the military, in case of Sullenberger the Air Force, in Tammie Jo Shults’ case the Navy.

    For years, for decades, the airlines have benefited from the most amazing pilot training in the world done by military, essentially free training. And it really matters the most when the chips are down, as we saw the other day in Philadelphia.

    As time goes on, there are fewer of these pilots moving into the airline world. There are fewer of them in general, fewer cockpits in the military. And the military is hanging on to these pilots longer because it’s very expensive to lose them.

    And so we have to wonder if the civilian training doesn’t quite match the military training in some respects. And you have to wonder, as we look toward the future of airline flying, if the civilian training may want to up its game a little bit””

  9. Speed says:

    The NTSB has released an interesting (for me anyway) video of the incident aircraft …

    1. The fan disk did not explode. It appears that a single fan blade came off or broke off.
    2. The damage to the engine case and cowling was ahead of the plane of the fan. This means that while centrifugal force caused the blade to fly away from the center of the engine, aerodynamic forces acting on the blade pushed it forward. Interesting.
    3. There was damage to the wing leading edge (the leading edge slat to be perfectly correct) well away from the engine. Speculation: The crew was aware of the damage and this may have been one reason for a faster than normal landing speed.

  10. Mark Maslowski says:

    Here’s a question: They landed with partial flaps and at a higher speed than normal. Is this because they suspected wing damage or is that a normal engine-out procedure to better handle the asymmetrical thrust?

    • SIrWired says:

      Wing damage; it doesn’t take much to disturb the airflow over the wing and significantly increase stall speed.

      • Roger Wolff says:

        Ha! Great insight! Glad to hear that others are starting to realize this. This increased stallspeed is what caused the El Al 747 to crash in the Bijlmer a few decades ago.

        In my non-powered flying I’ve always been afraid of overshooting my landing field. But a video I recently came across recommended “aiming for halfway down the runway” for unpowered landings: “It is much better to have 20-30 mph remaining at the end of the runway than to crash into the trees at 80+ mph near the start of the runway if you end up coming down a bit short….”

        Same here: It is much better to land a bit faster (and risk going off the far end) than to stall on approach.

    • Vic Barber says:

      I haven’t read the reports. I don’t usually until the NTSB makes its report. So I don’t know what flap setting they used. If they used 15 degrees that’s normal for a single engine approach in the 737. Less power is required on the approach and in the case of a missed approach or go around the aircraft would perform better in the initial climb out. If the airplane had an asymmetrical flap issue during flap extension due to system damage they would have landed with less than 15.

  11. Mark Maslowski says:

    As usual, a voice of reason that rises above the uninformed hype of our news media. Thanks!

  12. Speed says:

    Aviation Week reports …

    With about 60% of mandatory inspections done, nothing pointing to a pressing CFM56-7B fleet-safety issue linked to fan-blade failure has turned up, CFM International reported.

    The inspection orders, issued by FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) April 20, give operators until May 10 to perform ultrasonic inspections on fan blades on engines with more than 30,000 total cycles. The affected population is about 600 engines, CFM said.

  13. Graham Silliman says:

    Well done, Patrick. One more small detail to point out from the news media reports: It was reported that this 737 was designed with a window missing, with solid wall at one fuselage frame, to provide protection from an engine breakup. I believe the missing window is because the A/C ductwork runs up that space — a 737 design since the -300 series.

  14. DSU says:

    The very weird thing about this is that the engine part went through the worse possible part of the plane. Had it just gone through the fuselage it would have been a story to tell to your grandkids. Going through a window is a something different.

  15. Lee More says:

    As a certified SCUBA diver, I am aware of the dangers (some permanent) in rapid decompression.
    I have to be extra cautious in mixing flying with diving.
    My question is how is this decompression within the aircraft not considered a big deal? Coming out of the flight deaf is not my idea of no big deal.

    • Speed says:

      It’s a matter of degree. The air pressure at (say) 30,000 feet is 4.3 psi, at 10,000 feet 10.7 psi and at 8,000 feet 10.9 psi. A rapid depressurization of an aircraft cabin would drop the air pressure from the 10.9 psi to which the cabin is pressurized to 4.3 psi at 30,000.

      The airplane would then rapidly descend to 10,000 feet where the air pressure is 10.7 psi.

      My recollection from diving days is that as long as you don’t go below 33 feet underwater where the pressure is twice atmospheric (14.7 x 2 = 29.4 psi) and your estuation tubes are clear, there are no adverse consequences for the diver from rapidly (no faster than your bubbles) rising to the surface.

  16. Speed says:

    At Southwest Airlines, the Minutes After Disaster Struck
    How top management, using updates from the cockpit and passengers’ phones, put the emergency-response plan into action in Philadelphia and Dallas

  17. Keith Baumgart says:

    Thank you! Everyone who reads all the sensational stuff in the media should be required to read this also. Retired now but I did all this stuff a thousand times in a variety of simulators. Yes, the crew did a great job and, yes, it was exactly what they should have done and are trained to do. Heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased passenger. No matter how we got there, that’s a tragedy to be mourned.

  18. Mark Ellsworth says:

    The question nobody seems to be asking is about the fan case. Testing and certification is supposed to validate containment of single-blade off scenarios. From the pictures in the press it is pretty clear that a certificated system failed in some way. An interesting possibility is that the fan case my have contained the blade ejection but came off and was itself the object that struck the window that killed the passenger. Should we additionally inspect hardware that secures the case. Inspecting blades, gotta do sure, but the narrow focus hardly inspires confidence in the integrity of the fan case.

  19. Stephen Stapleton says:

    Patrick, I, if not others, would be most grateful if, in the future when you have time, you could discuss two things in regards to this. The first is, from all accounts, the passenger who died was wearing her seatbelt. How could she have been partial sucked out of the window while wearing her seat belt? At the very least, the position would seem to snap her neck. I am having trouble picturing how her head and shoulders could be out the window while she is still held in her seat by the belt.
    Second, compare and contrast (there goes my English teacher mother again) the handling of this incident by Southwest with United’s methods. Seems to me Southwest was far less interested in covering their rear and really helping the passengers. The pilot spoke to everyone after the plane was on the ground. Southwest arrange a charter flight to get them all to their destination the next day. The family members were quickly contacted and kept in the loop. The airline president addressed the staff and passengers with compassion and sympathy. They paid money for immediate expenses. All told, they seemed ready to handle the aftermath of the emergency with decency and honesty. United seems to play the Bart Simpson, “I didn’t do it” game until that doesn’t work. United seems very interested in limiting their liability, not helping passengers. There just seems a very different attitude between the two. As you are in the industry, do you see a real difference?

    • Speed says:

      Stephen Stapleton asked, “How could she have been partial sucked out of the window while wearing her seat belt?”

      Being a life-long window seat sitter I can speak from experience. If you lean to the side (while snoozing for example), your head and shoulder will rest against the window. Often there will be an oil spot from the previous passenger.

      Many commenters have used the term, “sucked out” to describe what likely happened. Once the window is gone, the pressure differential will result in air inside the airplane rushing out and pushing anything in its way along with it. “Pushed out” is a more correct term. A case could be made for saying, “blown out.”

      • Stephen Stapleton says:

        I do understand her head would be draw into the window by the air pressure differential, but I just don’t see how even that amount of pressure, would get her shoulders to the window, let alone into it, with her seatbelt on without tearing her body apart. As you sit in your seat with your seat belt fasten, do you think you could maneuver your shoulder opposite the window into its frame? Her hair, absolutely. Part of her head, certainly, but her shoulders? How?

        • Rod says:

          I’m sure the autopsy report wouldn’t make for enjoyable reading. I often loosen my belt a tad for comfort, thinking of turbulence, not a blown-out window (I’m also a window-sitter). Even with a tight belt, the forces involved sitting right next to the sole breach in a highly pressurized fuselage would stretch your body in unthinkable ways. Let’s hope unconsciousness came very quickly and stayed that way.

    • SIrWired says:

      For in-air accidents, all major airlines have a similar plan in place to accommodate passengers, issue press releases, provide assistance, etc. Southwest has done a fine job here, but it’s not markedly different from what you’d see from any of the major airlines.

  20. M Doudoroff says:

    I’ve often wondered during many hours in window seats abeam the fan section of these engines just where a fugitive blade or cowling fragment might be most likely to hit the fuselage. In this case it appears to have struck a window roughly above and slightly forward of the trailing edge of the wing. A lot of variables would affect the trajectory. I take this one as an interesting data point for a 737 in cruise. Any tech comments?

    • Speed says:

      This doesn’t apply to any pure jet aircraft but is interesting just the same. From 1952 …

      About 20:05 the flight [a Convair 340 twin turboprop] was cleared from its assigned cruising altitude of 10,000 feet to descend to 6,000 feet and report leaving 8,000 feet and 7,000 feet. Shortly after commencing the descent, all four prop blades on the no. 2 engines (sic) separated. The no. 2 prop blade penetrated the fuselage. While yawing to the right, the fuselage failed along the line of penetrations and the Convair crashed.

    • Speed says:

      Sorry, the Convair disaster happened in 1967. More detail here …

      People who are concerned about aircraft safety should read a few final accident reports. The amount of detailed information about the incident or crash and the subsequent analysis is astounding. I find them fascination and instructive.

  21. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for the information on the Southwest Engine failure. Please keep us informed on the developments surrounding this incident as information becomes available. My grandchildren and their mom frequently fly Southwest and were on a flight two weeks before this incident. The flight was delayed over and over and finally took off only to turn around after a half hr. and return to the airport. Naturally, I am concerned about the next flight, and would want an expert opinion on the steps the airlines have taken to ensure that an incident of this nature doesn’t happen again.

  22. Bill Goffe says:

    I was a bit surprised that no one here mentioned National Airlines flight 27 in 1973, which had an uncontained engine failure. It led to a passenger being “forced through a cabin window after it had been dislodged from its frame by fragments from the disintegrated No. 3 engine fan assembly.” See for the NTSB report (p. 4).

    According to , the passenger’s body was found two years later.

  23. SP says:

    I love to read this blog, but even knowing the facts about aircraft and their capabilities, had I been on this flight, with the vibration, noise, O2 masks coming down, rapid descent, etc., I would have been terrified. I’m glad the pilots were able to handle it appropriately.

    Also I think it’s fascinating how a number of commenters (who all seem to be men, from what I can tell), are doing elaborate calculations to prove that it’s impossible that the poor victim went partway out the window, when the accounts of people who were ON THE PLANE (some women, some men – firefighters no less!) say that she did in fact go partway out the window, though her seatbelt helped contain her.

    Go on, get mad at me, armchair quarterbacks! What I wrote is true!

  24. David says:

    The really tragic aspect of SW flight 1380 was that a very similar incident occurred on SW flight 3472 on Aug. 27, 2016. Cracks in a fan blade of the 737 engine led to an uncontained engine failure that released metal pieces into the aircraft, causing depressurization.

    This could have been a real wake-up call for Southwest and the FAA. CFM, the maker of the jet engine involved, recommended last year that the airlines check the fan blades for signs of metal fatigue including micro-cracks. The FAA considered this recommendation, but failed to make a mandatory directive. Southwest opposed the recommendation by the engine manufacturer to require ultrasonic inspections of certain fan blades within 12 months, saying it needed more time to conduct the work. This failure to heed both the warning from the 2016 incident and the warning of the engine manufacturer directly contributed to the fatal and completely preventable tragedy of flight 1380.

    I still place great trust in the airlines and the well-trained, talented and competent crew members of each flight. I hope that this would be an ongoing reminder to always consider the importance of fostering a culture of safety.

    • Ben says:

      Also worth pointing out with Southwest Airlines is that they put their aircraft under much greater stress compared to most airlines due to a combination of multiple short and frequent flights daily for each plane. This pattern of use gives the engines less time to rest and the fuselage undergoing more frequent pressurization and depressurization cycles. A higher number of cycles accelerates wear and tear on the fuselage. As a result, Southwest has to be extra vigilant when it comes to maintenance on its planes and engines, and not less as in this case here.

  25. Dean Welsh says:

    A very simple question for you aviation types from a layperson…does this accident support aft mounted engines as being safer than wing mounted?

    • Conrad says:

      No particularly… there is no hard and fast rule, especially since the designs of specific aircraft can vary widely. That said aft mounted engines are generally closer to the fuselage than a wing mounted pod and therefore could just as easily breach the pressure bulkhead or, as in the case of UA232 where the rear mounted engine failed, sever the hydraulic lines.

  26. Brian Evers says:

    IPA Press Releases
    Independent Pilots Association Advisory: Southwest 1380 is NOT the first U.S. airline fatality since 2009; UPS 1354 in 2013

    Release Date: 4/18/2018 1:54:39 PM

    LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 18, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The death resulting from an engine failure on Southwest Flt. 1380 yesterday is, sadly, not the first casualty at a U.S. airline since Colgan Air Flt. 3407 in 2009. Tragically, on August 14, 2013, United Parcel Service Flt. 1354 crashed on approach to Birmingham-Shuttleworth International Airport, resulting in the deaths of two crewmembers, Captain Cerea Beal and First Officer Shanda Fanning.

    UPS Airlines is the world’s largest airline by destinations served at 720. The next closest is FedEx with 375 destinations served. Data provided by dated December 2017.

    • Stephen Stapleton says:

      If I may suggest, the Unite Parcel flight, while commercial, is not a passenger airline and, thus, isn’t counted in the air carrier. To be an air carrier, as I understand the distinction, the business must fly both passengers and cargo. I hope Patrick may clarify when he has a moment.

  27. Speed says:

    Aviation week reports …

    The FAA will issue an airworthiness directive (AD) in the next two weeks requiring inspections of certain CFM56-7B turbofan engines, the agency announced one day after the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 engine failure.

    “The directive will require an ultrasonic inspection of fan blades when they reach a certain number of takeoffs and landings. Any blades that fail the inspection will have to be replaced,” the FAA said in a statement released on the evening of April 18.

    U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators responding to the Philadelphia airport immediately focused on a missing fan blade in the damaged engine. The No. 13 fan blade—one of 24 titanium alloy fan blades—had broken at the point where it attached to the disk hub, where there was evidence of fatigue cracking.

    Read the whole article.

    And notice that Aviation Week uses the word “explosion” in referring to the engine … failure. Doing an on-line search for a definition of “explosion” seems to agree with its use here.

  28. MSP Pilot says:

    Two incredibly inaccurate statements about Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 from an article by John Bacon in today’s USA Today (April 19, 2018):

    “She warned that her plane was coming in hot.”

    I would only expect this radio transmission from Whip Whitaker in “Flight” or Ted Striker in “Airplane.”

    “The plane rolled onto a grassy area…”

    Gee, let’s add a runway excursion to the list of problems we’re dealing with today.

    Who makes this stuff up?
    How does the media so consistently botch any story about aviation?

    • Rod says:

      You ask this because you know something about aviation. If you knew something about moulting in decapod crustacea, you’d be appalled at how wrong the media gets everything on that subject. Extrapolate.
      The reality is that the mainline media is interested in suckering people into buying its advertisers’ products. To do this it has to titillate people. Facts and serious research are nice, but a luxury in terms of uhh.. shareholder value.
      If you can whip people up into a lather of excitement about what a Close Call this was for all concerned and what a Hero “the pilot” was (gosh, just like Tom Hanks, I mean Sully), then who really cares about the facts?

      • Speed says:

        This is part one of the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect as described by Michael Crichton.

        “Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

        In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

    • Dean Welsh says:

      I have a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, and the reporting of chemical accidents is no better. The media doesn’t seem to mind making things up when needed.

    • Stacy says:

      I’m a lawyer and believe me, no story about a trial (or anything involving law) ever makes a lick of sense.

    • Lee says:

      If it wasn’t for the media, we wouldn’t know much about any current events. Media bashing has become a sport.

      • Rod says:

        I’m skeptical of any term ending in the word “bashing”. The media have an important role to play in society, and wayyyyy too often they fall flat. Me I think that having to please your advertisers is the kiss of death. You’ll never bite the hand that feeds you. Not only will you never look too critically at THEM but you’ll dance to their tune of 24-hour titillation of the masses to maximize their income. And therefore yours.
        How can you expect reliable information about current events in those circs?
        Media reporting gives you an extremely rough guide to Some of what’s going on, and too often to what’s Not Going on At All (think about this).

  29. Speed says:

    From the Wall Street Journal …

    Passenger Jennifer Riordan died from blunt-impact trauma to the head, neck and torso, said a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

    The spokesman said he couldn’t elaborate on the nature of the impact. The department’s policy is to release only the cause and manner of death. The manner is listed as an accident.

    In addition, passengers have described trying to pull her back into the aircraft after she was partially sucked out of a shattered window when the engine broke apart. They were unable to revive her.

    The NTSB said it appears Ms. Riordan was wearing a seatbelt.

  30. Andy Pasternak says:

    Interesting to hear and read the stories from the passengers. We can debate back and forth if they were heroes but it obviously Captain Shults and First Officer Ellisor worked incredibly well in tandem to do the things they needed to do to land the aeroplane without further fatalities and should be recognized for their efforts.

    So my question is what eventually happens to the airplane itself. I’m assuming there is going to be a prolonged period of time for FAA/NTSB inspections to figure out what happened. Once that is done, does Southwest fix the window and have a new engine slapped on it in Philly? I know Southwest doesn’t have “hubs” like other airlines but they can’t have full maintenance facilities at every airport.

  31. Fred says:

    What is with the media referring to an engine explosion? Even the New York Times is calling what happened an explosion. However as I can understand what actually happened that some part of the engine (probably a fan blade) suffered a structural failure from metal fatigue. The resulting damage was caused by the kinetic energy of the pieces of the engine. The event was not caused by the rapid sort of chemical reaction that would be considered an explosion. A real explosion would have likely damaged the air frame in some serious way. Or am I confused?

    • Rod says:

      My two cents: If you look at the photo of what was left, you might as well call it an explosion. Something broke through a cowling designed to contain it and punctured the fuselage. That certainly Sounds explosive.
      Once that happened there were pieces of cowling sticking out that got ripped off, or peeled back, by the airflow, allowing a now off-balance and unprotected assembly to disintegrate.

  32. Tim says:

    This writer seems to think pilots who say the crew of Southwest 1380 weren’t heroes, and were just doing their jobs, are envious of the attention. He also calls out Ask the Pilot commenters for being cynical:

    • John says:

      That writer states there is a sexist undercurrent to the “criticism” of the SWA pilot born out envy. No pilot is envious of their “hero” status. We recognise their calm under pressure and their professionalism however. What people are speaking out against is the media’s labelling of these two as “heroes”. Even the pilots (via an SWA press release) stated the exact same thing:

      “As Captain and First Officer of the Crew of five who worked to serve our Customers aboard Flight 1380 yesterday, we all feel we were simply doing our jobs. Our hearts are heavy. On behalf of the entire Crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss. We joined our Company today in focused work and interviews with investigators. We are not conducting media interview and we ask that the public and the media respect our focus.” — Southwest Captain Tammie Jo Shults and Southwest Airlines First Officers Darren Ellisor.

      This also isn’t sexism, I believe Patrick himself criticised the media labelling of Sully and Skiles (both male) as “heroes” after the Hudson ditching.

      He seems a bit hung up on the “thank you for your service” culture in the US.

  33. Alex says:

    Patrick, what is your take on how the media is handling this incident?

    Not to say the crew didn’t do a great job, but the media seems to be hailing the captain of this flight as a hero on the level of a Chesley Sullenberger. Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as the flight crew was concerned this was a relatively mundane emergency descent followed by a single-engine landing, correct?

    I’m not surprised the media is sensationalizing a bit given how rare aviation accidents are in the developed world these days, but they seem to be going a bit over the top, treating this as a narrowly-averted large scale disaster like an Aloha 243 or Air Canada 143. What do you think?

  34. mitch says:

    A window is 12 x 18 inches = 216 sq in.
    Cabin differential pressure at cruising altitude is about 6.5 lb/sq in, so the outward load on an intact window is around 1,400 lbs.
    It is beyond frightening to think about the result of that much load suddenly applied to a human body, even with a seat belt.

    Patrick knows the details far better than I, but the procedure for a depressurization emergency is for the flight crew to quickly don O2 masks and RAPIDLY but SAFELY descend to 10,000 ft: close the throttles, extend the speedbrakes, and push the nose down. The extended speedbrakes disturb the airflow over the wings and horizontal tail, causing aerodynamic buffeting resulting in noise and vibration. That and the descent angle can scare some passengers into thinking the airplane is in an uncontrolled dive. However, the airplane is always under control and is well within its certified flight limitations.

    Crew and passenger oxygen is required only during the short emergency descent. Crew oxygen is from a high-pressure cylinder under the floor; passenger oxygen is from chemical generators in the overhead bins. Passenger masks drop automatically when cabin altitude exceeds 13,000 ft. Once the airplane reaches 10,000 ft all the masks can be removed and the flight can continue to land as soon as possible

    • Brian R says:

      No. That’s not how air pressure works. The outward “load” (pressure really) is 6.5 PSI as you state. Not 1400 lbs. lbs or pounds is a measurement of weight which is not applicable in this case. It would be applicable if you wanted to calculate the weight of a column of air above the window were the window horizontal. What you are looking for is force, not weight. And that is calculated by force = pressure x area. In this case that would work out to about 6.245 kN. But that’s not really the whole story. Air pressure is not that simple. Fluid dynamics come into play. Therefore it becomes very difficult to quantify the exact amount of force that would be applied to a person in a situation like this. However it is highly unlikely it would be enough force to actually move a person let alone “suck” (blow really) them out of an aircraft. Most situations where someone was reported to have been “sucked” out, they likely fell through the opening. We are all products of the media we have consumed for years that contained a lot of really bad information.

      Tragic accident however and my sympathies to the woman’s family and friends. =(

      • Speed says:

        Brian R wrote, ” … lbs or pounds is a measurement of weight which is not applicable in this case.”

        Wikipedia tells us …
        The pound-force is a unit of force used in some systems of measurement including English Engineering units and the British Gravitational System.

        Brian R further wrote, “What you are looking for is force, not weight. And that is calculated by force = pressure x area.”

        Look at the units … Pressure (in pounds per square inch) times area (in square inches) results in force in pounds. This is the calculation that Mitch did.

        The interesting calculation is how fast (velocity — feet per second or mass — cubic feet per second) air would pass through that window when there is a pressure differential of 6.5 psi. Of course that would be complicated by the ambient air passing at 500 mph or so.

        • Brian R says:

          Except that it makes it sound like a person is hit with 1400 pounds which would be extreme. That’s not the case at all. When you are outside you have more than 600 pounds of air pressing on you, but you are pressed down to the ground. When wind blows it doesn’t pick you up and toss you around, unless that wind is blowing at a great velocity and that is only because of the volume of air moving. You cannot take, say, a 12-inch hose and blow air at a person and move them even if the air velocity is equal to the velocity of wind that would move them. That is because of the dynamics of the air. It is the same in this situation. Air will tend to move around an object rather than purely push it, the volume of air inside an aircraft cannot simply leave all at once meaning that the force simply cannot be applied on a single object all at once. We can state really big numbers like 1400 pounds and even 6.245 kN (less would be required to break bones if applied correctly), but those don’t tell the correct story. It’s just not the way things work in a dynamic environment. The fact is that there is insufficient pressure differential to actually move an object as large as a person. Most likely some air enters the aircraft while some leaves creating a lot of turbulent air inside which blows a lot of small objects around. This creates confusion coupled with the expectation created by assumptions which makes people believe something is occurring when it isn’t.

          • Tamara says:

            Bryan, I agree with your measures, but the family may be reading this and feeling pain.
            Take it back a notch, it’s not helping them.

            It’s not helping them at all. either give them help or dial it back man.

        • Brian R says:

          I should qualify that what I am saying only applies in the case of a hole as small as a window. If the hole were very large then it is possible for a sufficient enough volume of air to move all at once and move a person. In the case of a window-sized hole there would definitely be a lot of air moving, but not nearly enough to move a person. Of course if you put your body in the window hole the initial effect would be to pull you very hard against the hole, perhaps even into the hole if it was your head. But it would not continue to pull you unless there was air still moving past you. So if you were seated directly beside the window your arm and head could be pushed toward the window enough that they are pressed into the opening, but at no point would you actually be in danger of being “sucked” (really blown) out. But I can see the nature of the confusion. Unfortunately that has led to movies where people are “sucked” out airplane doors, etc. from many feet away for minutes. Just not possible.

      • Remember this experiment from elementary school? We used to just light something on fire inside the bottle….who had a vacuum thingie?
        Anyway, not making any commentary on the exact cause of the pressure difference but making an illustration regarding how something “too big for a hole” can get pulled or pushed through one.
        If you imagine a human body instead of an egg… Particularly vital structures such as a skull and spine… well, it is easy to imagine the trauma.
        Very sad.

  35. Carlos Si says:

    Also be safe on your travels!

  36. Carlos Si says:

    It was Southwest’s first fatality of a passenger too 🙁 .

    And yea agreed; people sending their goodbyes to friends and family seemed a bit much; the window tore open and the aircraft was simply descending faster than normal. If only people would take a class on basic aviation knowledge…….. although I guess the topics could be endless and there may be a lot of “basic” stuff to cover, so for now relatively few are knowledgeable.

  37. Tamara says:

    I’m really glad the plane landed safely, and horrified to hear that a woman died in the event.
    Agree with some of the comments and disagree with others.

    But the Media headlines of the pilot having “Nerves of Steel” threw me. Because she’s a woman?
    “Nice that the little woman didn’t get all flustered” when the tragedy happened. Because she’s an experienced Pilot and a former Navy fighter pilot. It’s weird as a woman to watch women being treated so differently in the Media. Kudos to that pilot who did her job and did it well.

    I am curious about a couple of things:
    The pictures show the seat intact–does that mean the seatbelt could have helped? Was it used?
    What is a good analogy for the pressure differential in that situation–could any of us survive it?

    With that kind of pressure, why didn’t the pressure suck out the oxygen masks and tubes in that row?

    Stupid question: would having the shade down help at all? Or would it have been ripped out immediately?
    I learned to fly a Cessna 172, all I know is don’t the fly the door into ground.

    I’m interested in the other comments on Kevlar and other ways to keep engine parts from striking the fuselage.

    And lastly, is it reasonable and safe enough to get up during an event of cabin pressure loss to go help someone in trouble? Cause you know everyone wishes they could. Even if they are terrified.

    Those people on the Southwest flight, including the crew, went through such hell and survived.

    • MW says:

      I’m a physicist, so I know a little about gas pressure, but I am not a pilot or aviation specialist. Most of this is educated guessing.

      The pictures I’ve seen showed the window frame intact. A normal sized person would not fit through, so I don’t think she was ever in danger of actually being sucked out, whatever other passengers might say.

      If her head could reach the window while the seatbelt was on, the seatbelt wouldn’t make much difference.

      The situation was potentially survivable. There was a case decades ago where a cockpit window was mis-repaired and blew out in flight. The pilot was sucked half out of the plane, with people hanging on to his legs, but unable to pull him in until after the plane had landed. Much to everyone’s surprise, he survived this.

      The impression I have is that the passenger did not have her head outside the plane for very long, so this in itself probably did not kill her. I expect that she died of impact injuries- she was hurled towards the window frame and then suddenly stopped by a hard object.

      There seems to be a character limit on comments, so I’ll continue in the next comment.

      • Rod says:

        Strapped in or not, your head or arm could get sucked out the window, with the horrifying possibility that it would turn you into a human cork.
        Anyway, I’ve just read on the BBC website that the victim’s cause of death was “blunt impact trauma to her head, neck and torso”, which could be interpreted several ways. I assume she didn’t remain conscious for long at all, a blessing.
        Yes, the BA pilot-held-by-legs case would be laughed out of the cinema as ridiculous, except it really happened.

        • Brian R says:

          Physics would make this impossible. There is no way that the force of the out-rushing air would be greater than that of air plowing into the cockpit at about 500 mph. I could see it being likely that the aircraft decelerated quite quickly as soon as the aerodynamics were adversely affected by the loss of a windscreen and that is what propelled the pilot forward. It’s amazing the conclusions that are made due to assumption.

    • MW says:

      Atmospheric pressure at sea level is the same as a column of water 10m deep. Guestimating the area of the window, that might be about the weight of 100kg. So if she had her head stuck out the window and had made an airtight seal, this is a force which could cause injury, but it would be within the capability of a couple of people to pull her back in. So yes, you could survive the pressure differential, so long as you got put into that situation gently, but you might suffer broken collar bone or similar. Now you’d have your head in a perhaps 700km/hr air stream at -40 degrees (C or F, your choice) and air pressure too low to breath properly. Either of these will kill you, but likely take 10 or more minutes to do so.

      I really doubt the window shade would make any difference. The forces involved are way beyond its breaking strength.

      For a short period after the hull breach, there would have been strong winds blowing towards the hole, which would have blown the nearby oxygen masks. However this wouldn’t last long until the excess air in the plane had all escaped – I’d guess tens of seconds, but I am not confident of this. The masks may well have been strong enough to survive this.

      Yes, you could move around the cabin to help someone, but you need to regularly breath through a mask. There are more masks than passengers, and cabin crew are trained to move about the cabin grabbing breaths from spare masks. There are also oxygen bottles which they could use while moving around.

      • Brian R says:

        Weight doesn’t apply horizontally.

        • Stephen Stapleton says:

          Have you tried moving something sideways? It is still heavy. I’d suggest moving a heavy object against pressure is more work than moving a light one.

        • Roger Wolff says:

          Brian, outside of physics class, forces are sometimes compared with the certain weights. So, outside of physics class, people sometimes say “1400lb of force”, when technically speaking they should have said 1400lb-f, or in more sensible units 6.2kN.

          So, it would seem that people calculating say 1400pounds of force on anything that plugs the window would have a better practical understanding of physics than you. What are you accomplishing by totally dismissing valid calculations?

          The distinction between weight and force becomes really important when you’re doing calculations on an accelerating rocket. In this case no confusion is possible. So drop it, please.

          • MW says:

            Yes, that was why I used the phrase “the weight of 100kg” to describe the force.

            I was guessing a lot in that calculation. Someone else calculated 1400 lb force, and look to have better numbers than me, so that is likely correct.

    • MW says:

      As long as other people (with masks) are nearby, aiding someone would be pretty safe. The worst case is you don’t get enough oxygen, fall unconscious, then someone gets you oxygen and you wake up. Lack of oxygen takes a lot longer to injure/kill you than it takes to render you unconscious, so you would not be harmed by brief unconsciousness. This is why the safety videos say to put on your own mask before helping children: doing things the recommended way, at worst the kids will briefly be unconscious, but will suffer no harm. If you mask them first, you might fall unconscious before masking yourself and if nobody nearby masks you, you might be without oxygen for a long time, which could cause damage or death.

      • Tamara says:

        Thank you for your wise and insightful comments on the concerns I listed.
        It is reassuring to hear the voice of science and reason when things fall apart in a disaster.

        Most of the comments here are blustering egos; yours was a true set of truth and answers, thank you.

        So yes, the calm down in the winds after the equilibrium, that answers my question about the oxygen
        masks–they didn’t have endure too long a pressure imbalance.
        It’s reassuring to realize that most human bodies won’t be blown out the windows.
        It’s extremely reassuring that in an emergency of cabin pressure loss, if we can hold our fears and bowels together we can still be of help, that is perhaps the most important reassurance you provided. Thank you.

        Thanks also for realizing that I was deeply concerned about how that passenger died from her injuries. I’m hoping her family never reads this list and that I don’t add to their torment.
        I was so overcome by this story that I wanted to know how this could happen.
        To honor her life and death by caring about what happened to her.

        My Father used to quiz me as a kid: Hey, what is the only thing that kills people? I had no one answer. He said “stopping”.

        Grateful to you Sir. You Are Wise.

        • Roger Wolff says:

          Tamara, this also puts in perspective the priorities the guy and gal up front must have: FIRST get on the oxigen mask. At 30000 feet, you have about 15-30 seconds of consciousness without the mask. THEN get the plane under control. Having the plane fly straight-and-level for 30 seconds until the pilots black out is of no use.

          • Patrick says:

            Excellent point. The importance of getting your mask on IMMEDIATELY cannot be overemphasized.

            Now, I do have a bone to pick with your criticism of civilian pilots for supposedly not knowing how to recover a jetliner from a stall. As a civilian-trained pilot, I take offense.

            And for what it’s worth, most commercial carriers now include high-altitude stall recovery procedures in both initial and recurrent training. It used to be something they more or less glossed over, but since the Air France crash it’s been taken more seriously.

          • Roger Wolff says:

            Well… I must say that at first I was critical of the report that said Airbus pilots didn’t know how to recover from a stall. Why would it only be airbus pilots?
            The cause could be found in the IMHO very odd recommendation from Airbus not to train pilots on this issue…..

            Also, in big aviation, big money is always involved. So for example in THIS case: “A fan blade can fail terribly”, and then a total of 600 engines worldwide qualify for being inspected, right? The recommendations from incidents are always very narrow.

            Anyway, if as you say pilots are now being trained more on “high altitude stall recovery” at least some big guys agree with us that the previous situation was undesirable…..

            The useful consciousness does not drop much further with altitude. There is a little oxygen buffer in the cells in your brain that covers most of that period.

          • Art Knight says:

            Pierre-Cédric Bonin was not qualified to fly an aircraft. He killed himself and everyone else on Air France Flight 447. He kept pulling up on the yoke instead of pushing it forward and adding power. That is Flight Simulator 101. The Captain was hung over after spending the night out with his lady and they were fucking and sleeping instead of making sure the plane and crew were safe. Also, I have a friend in Belgium and she tells me all French have bad body odor. That’s why they invented perfume! 😉

  38. Marie says:

    I want to thank you for writing this – and all the other things you have written. I am a nervous flyer and I find that knowing about all the things you have explained here has been enormously comforting.

  39. Julie says:

    I just want to say thank you for writing this blog, and your book. I fly all the time for work. Logically I know that flying is safe, but hearing your accounts and your explanations has helped me get over the non-logical part of my mind. Thanks for talking about this incident and putting it in perspective. It’s very reassuring to know how qualified the pilots and flight attendants are for these types of events (which are thankfully rare).

  40. Satadru Sen says:

    Shades of “miracle on the Hudson,” Patrick! Sully and Charlton Heston now have a lady angel to keep them company in pulp-fiction heaven.

  41. MW says:

    Who was doing what in the cockpit? With all the media attention on Captain Tammie Shults, I haven’t even seen the name of the first officer. (I just looked it up on Wikipedia – it was Darren Ellisor, also a USAF veteran.)

    In the ATC recordings, it is Captain Shults who is communicating. I understand that in a crisis situation like this, one pilot’s principal attention is on flying the plane while the other is attempting to understand and mitigate the fault, usually with assistance of checklists. I’m not sure which of them communicates with ATC.

    • Jmr says:

      Hi there,
      Unless the pilot flying is unable to do so as SOP the pilot not flying operates the radio. This is why it is so frankly laughable for all the attention on the “pilot” (copilot’s are not pilots!) who in fact was operating the radio and the QRH, as SOP calls for. Frankly, I feel heroics should not be complemented… They belong in Hollywood. Heroics is trying to make it back to LA Guardia after your engines get destroyed… causing you to crash into a residential area and hundreds of deaths. Doing your job in the best possible manner is analysing the situation and realising that the Hudson River is the safer option. Therefore this crew as a whole deserves compliments for landing a damaged aircraft safely while following SOP and executing the correct procedures with the utmost professionalism, but I would expect this from any crew, military or not. Apologies for this rant!

  42. Chris says:

    There was an interesting story in Vanity Fair about airplane maintenance and that it’s mostly outsourced to foreign countries where the FAA has little resources or control. This is the part that’s frightening.

  43. Tim says:

    I read where at least one passenger said they were told to lower window shades. Because of this the passengers couldn’t tell where they were in relation to the ground which made for an even more nerve racking descent, considering what happened.

    The only reason I can think of for this is so people couldn’t see the engine and “become alarmed.” (Or take pictures and post them online.) I think it would be more alarming not being able to see out the windows. I’m still bummed thirty years after flying into Turkey on a C-141 and not being able to see out and admire the scenery, and the landing was jarring because I had no idea we were about to land.

  44. John says:

    What gets to me is all the hullabaloo about the “pilot” (deleberate use of the singular) and her former military background. Many commentators and social media users describing that as being the sole reason the plane made it down safely, as apparently it’s only the military trained pilots that remain calm in emergencies. “Thank God a former military pilot was onboard” they say. A quick browse of Avherald shows 17 uncontained engine failures all guided to a safe ending within the last 3 years, and I’m going to guess most of them had two civilian trained pilots at the controls.

    It always annoys me that there exist these public assumptions that most airline pilots come from the military or the best airline pilots are former military or when an incident occurs if we find that one of the pilots was former military then the passengers were “lucky” to have their skills and experience onboard.

    Of course kudos to these two for bringing the incident to a safe conclusion, but thanks as well to all the other pilots, no matter what their background, for ensuring all those other uncontained failures recently were handled professionally as well.

  45. Ryan says:

    Does anyone know if the passenger was wearing her seat belt? Would it have made a difference?

    • Rod says:

      I’m thinking (and it barely bears thinking about) that you could be belted in and your arm or head could still get sucked outside. Seems the aircraft was at +30 000 ft when the event occurred, so you can imagine the pressure difference, all centred on that wee window.

    • Raj says:

      You probably know this by now but, yes, she was wearing her seatbelt. Terrible tragedy.

      • Stephen Stapleton says:

        I, too, understand she was wearing a seatbelt. I am having trouble picturing how she could have her head and shoulders sucked out of the window, yet still be belted in. At the very least, the position would seem to snap her neck.

        Now I have two reason for an aisle seat. Not only do I often need to access the facilities, thus avoiding bothering my seat mates during the flight if I am on the aisle, but I also am less likely to be sucked out of the window.

        • Art Knight says:

          It is not as if it is a NASCAR seat with Hans Device and 5-point harness. It is a lap belt, circa my grandad’s 1964 Chevy Malibu. That is all. According to accounts, it slid down to her thighs. She did everything right provided the equipment that she was given, which of course, is crap.

  46. Alan says:

    Does this incident count when it comes to breaking the record of no major airline accidents for a decade?

  47. Chris says:

    I’m curious as to when airlines are going to update their emergency procedures to include ‘start tweeting / streaming on facebook’. It never amazes me how many people who were ‘frightened for their lives’ and ‘convinced they were going to crash’ still manage to blog the entire event.

    Cynicism aside the crew deserver some kudos given the (thankfully) rarety of uncontrolled engine failures causing this amount of damage. Even if it is part of their job.

  48. Kent Matlack says:

    The Southwest incident suggests to me that it might be wise to coat the insides of the engine cowlings with Kevlar to contain the shrapnel from such events. Is this done? Would it work?

  49. James David Walley says:

    I’m assuming it’s predictably depressing to Patrick that the mainstream media is hailing the captain as some sort of superhero for managing to get the aircraft on the ground with any survivors at all, as if this was the sort of emergency that isn’t planned for and practiced in every simulator check. (Of course, her being previously the first female fighter pilot in the U.S. military lends to her reputation, but, still, when you read people indignantly writing that it will be an outrage if she doesn’t get a movie made about her “just like Sully”…smh)

    • Alan says:

      I expect we will hear a bit more about the use of the word “hero” from Patrick next time he checks in.

      The media has a notable craving for this but it looks like they have their new “Sully.” And to top it off it isn’t a white male this time.

  50. arnold says:

    There is no such thing as “centrifugal force”

    • Speed says:

      In a rotating reference frame, all objects, regardless of their state of motion, appear to be under the influence of a radially (from the axis of rotation) outward force that is proportional to their mass, to the distance from the axis of rotation of the frame, and to the square of the angular velocity of the frame. This is the centrifugal force. As humans usually experience centrifugal force from within the rotating reference frame, e.g. on a merry-go-round or vehicle, this is much more well-known than centripetal force.
      (my bold)

      The nitpickery of the english language that drives the less detail oriented insane…often mistaken as a tool to impress others when in fact it is annoying

      • Stephen Stapleton says:

        Sorry, but the words have meanings and using the wrong word can be disastrous. I can’t tell you how many lawsuits arise from the misuse of a term or a misplaced comma. While you may feel annoyed, you should be glad someone is actually paying attention to what you are saying enough to notice when you’ve misspoken.

    • BillK says:

      Depends on your frame of reference.

    • Rod says:

      Picky PICKY. It’s a kind of inertia.

    • Art Knight says:

      As a medical laboratory technician, I surely never wanted to use a “centripuge” to spin down the blood samples. We used a “centrifuge.” Even in a lab coat and face shield, a “centripuge” would be just to darned messy! 😉

  51. Jim says:

    Wasn’t the last death’s on a US carrier involve a Continental commuter going into Buffalo,NY in 2009?

    • Speed says:

      You are correct. Patrick used the descriptor “major” which for some does not include commuter carriers such as Colgan. For those on the airplane and their families it is a distinction without a difference.

    • Terry McG says:

      That flight was a Colgan flight marketed as Continental Connection. Patrick said last “major” air carrier.
      You are correct that this was the last US commercial flight with fatalities, but was not considered a US major airline.

  52. SIrWired says:

    As usual, the reporting has relied too much on passenger accounts, even though they will generally do a poor job with translating what they felt to what was actually happening.

    For instance, one account stated the plane was dropping out of the sky, but they got it under control soon after. The reporter mentioned almost as an afterthought that the plane leveled out at 10,000 feet. A pilot could have told the reporter that a rapid descent to a breathable altitude is SOP for depressurization, so the passengers who can’t or didn’t don masks don’t go hypoxic. The plane wasn’t getting ready to crash. While I would not expect a passenger to know this, a reporter asking an expert for interpretation before publishing would have been nice.

  53. MW says:

    If you search on youtube for “jet engine containment test” you can see spectacular examples of how much punishment the engines can take while still containing the damage.

    Here is the incident report for another uncontained engine incident – an Air New Zealand 767 in 2002.
    This made local (Australia/New Zealand) media at the time but probably not world news. Damage outside the engine was minor, and the cabin was not impacted.

    • ER says:

      Even people that should know better like former NTSB member John Goglia,seem to get things wrong with respect to engine containment – re: SW 1380 he was quoted in the press: “There’s a ring around the engine that is meant to contain the engine pieces when this happens”. While reports are, and pictures suggest, that the subject engine liberated a fan blade which is part of FAA required certification testing from a containment and controlled shutdown perspective, failure of a much heavier disks/hub is not required to be, and almost certainly won’t be contained regardless of the ‘ring’ he refers to. UA 232 crash was tied to an uncontained disk failure and changes were made to manufacturing and inspection processes to reduce the likelihood of future failures, not on trying to contain highly energetic pieces of metal.