Following the uncontained engine failure that led to the death of a passenger on a Southwest Airlines 737-700 Tuesday, Fort Worth-based American Airlines says they will follow any maintenance programs recommended by the NTSB, FAA or manufacturer for their fleet of 737s.
On Wednesday, the FAA said it would issue a directive in the next two weeks to require ultrasonic inspections of fan blades on some CFM56-7B engines after they reach a certain number of takeoffs and landings. Blades that fail inspection would need to be replaced.
American said they have 304 Boeing 737-800s in their fleet, all operating with the CFM56-7B engine -- the same engine that failed on the Southwest flight.
"Our team will always make any adjustments to our engine maintenance programs as recommended by the NTSB, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and CFM International," the airline said. "Our hearts go out to the Riordan family, the passengers and crew of Flight 1380 and the entire Southwest Airlines team."
American added that they began inspecting the CFM56 engines after a notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM) was published in August 2017.
"American Airlines voluntarily began inspections of CFM56-7B fan blades under the guidance proposed in the NPRM. We continue to closely monitor the investigation being led by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)," the airline said Thursday.
Southwest Airlines, the world's largest operator of the 737, pushed back on the 2017 NPRM, saying it would take at least six months longer than the recommended 12 months to ultrasonically inspect all of the engines in their fleet.
At that point the airline had already suffered an uncontained engine failure attributed to metal fatigue when, in August 2016, a titanium fan blade separated from an engine on one of Southwest's Boeing 737-700s and sliced a hole in the fuselage above the left wing. That flight, too, experienced depressurization and made an emergency landing though the damage didn't penetrate the cabin.
American suffered an uncontained engine failure on Flight 383 from Chicago to Miami on Oct. 28, 2016 due to engine fatigue. The pilot of the aircraft, a Boeing 767-300, was attempting to take-off when failure occurred. The pilot was able to abort the takeoff and 170 passengers and crew were evacuated onto the runway as fire consumed the right engine.
The NTSB determined that the engine failure on the 767 was caused by a manufacturing defect in the GE engine that could not be detected by the manufacturer’s Federal Aviation Administration-approved inspection requirements.