Southwest Airlines flight bound for Orlando, Florida, made an emergency landing due to a major problem with one of its two engines. Passengers heard a loud explosion that rumbled one side of the airplane before the Captain spoke on the intercom system. Passengers say it started with a loud boom and the smell of smoke. When they looked out their windows they saw the leading edge of metal casing around the number one engine was ripped away, exposing the fan blades of this 16 year old Boeing 737.
Flight 3472 was on its way from New Orleans to Orlando early Saturday when an inlet from one of the plane’s two engines tore away. The plane was a Boeing 737-700, flying at around 30,700 feet before it began its descent for an emergency landing into Pensacola International Airport. Of the 99 passengers and five crew members on board, a Southwest statement said initial reports showed no injuries following the flight.As CNN reports, a woman passenger who was on the Southwest Airlines Flight 3472 with her husband and three children said they witnessed the jet engine failure right outside their window. The felt the plane shake as breathing masks were deployed. "It was just a big explosion. There was some smoke and then nothing," she told CNN . "I saw parts flapping in the wind."
The airplane was taken out of service after the engine issue. The company was looking for alternatives to assist passengers in reaching Florida. According to the President of Boyd International, Michal Boyd, such serious engine issues are rare for major airlines like Southwest. Moreover, he mentioned that Southwest spends a considerable amount on maintenance and has a good safety record. "It's a one-off, almost unheard of," Boyd said Saturday. "Southwest has an outstanding safety record because it spends a lot of money on maintenance."
Pictures taken from the plane and posted online made it appear that part of the engine had blown apart, but Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said there was no explosion. He said Southwest will work with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause.