Saturday, August 27, 2016

Southwest Airlines, Boeing 737-7H4, N766SW: Accident occurred August 27, 2016 at Pensacola International Airport (KPNS), Escambia County, Florida

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office:  Birmingham, Alabama 

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report: 

Southwest Airlines Company

Location: Pensacola, FL
Accident Number: DCA16FA217
Date & Time: 08/27/2016, 0930 CDT
Registration: N766SW
Aircraft: BOEING 737-700
Injuries: 104 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 121: Air Carrier - Scheduled 

On August 27, 2016, about 0930 central daylight time, a Boeing 737-700, N766SW, operating as Southwest Airlines flight 3472, experienced an uncontained engine failure and cabin depressurization while climbing through flight level 310. None of the 99 passengers and 5 crewmembers onboard were injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight crew declared an emergency and diverted to Pensacola International Airport (PNS), Pensacola, Florida. The regularly scheduled passenger flight was operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY), New Orleans, Louisiana, to Orlando International Airport (MCO), Orlando, Florida.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BOEING
Registration: N766SW
Model/Series: 737-700
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Southwest Airlines
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Flag carrier (121) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPQL
Observation Time: 0853 CDT
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 24°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots, 60°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: New Orleans, LA (KMSY)
Destination: Orlando, FL (KMCO) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 5 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 99 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 104 None
Latitude, Longitude:

ORLANDO, Fla. —After a frightful boom from a blown engine forced an Orlando-bound plane to land in Pensacola, Southwest Airlines officials say they believe the malfunction was isolated.

The airline and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

WESH 2 spoke Sunday with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor Anthony Brickhouse, who also once worked for the NTSB, about what the investigation will entail.

"Investigating an accident is like putting a puzzle back together," Brickhouse said.

Brickhouse said while it's impossible to know yet what caused the malfunction, investigators are likely well-equipped in this case.

"You have passengers on board who saw what happened. You have flight attendants who saw what happened," Brickhouse said. "Also, Southwest has really advanced sensors that record different parameters."

Brickhouse said the plane's black box recorder will also likely shed light.

"It's pretty rare to have something like this happen in flight. Last year, we had two major engine failures on the ground -- one happened in Las Vegas and another in South Florida in Fort Lauderdale, but to have something like this happen in-flight is dramatic," he said.

WESH 2 was there when passengers arrived safe in Orlando via Pensacola.

All were grateful no one was hurt.

"It made me realize how really important it is to listen to the safety information because I usually just think that stuff is never going to happen," passenger Julie Stephens told WESH 2's Matt Lupoli on Saturday evening.

The passengers and Brickhouse agree: The outcome could've been far worse.

"The flight crew did an excellent job of getting that aircraft down safely," Brickhouse said.

Southwest refunded passengers for the flight and offered a $500 voucher for future travel.

The NTSB investigation into the malfunction could take as many as 6-9 months to complete.

Story and video:

The Federal Aviation Administration released the following statement:

Southwest Airlines flight 3472, a Boeing 737, from Louis Armstrong New Orleans Intentional Airport to Orlando International Airport was diverted due to an apparent engine malfunction. The flight declared an emergency and landed safely at Pensacola International Airport just before 9:45 AM Central Time. The FAA will investigate. 

Southwest Airlines released the following statement about the flight:

Today, the Captain of Flight #3472 from New Orleans to Orlando made the decision to divert to Pensacola due to a mechanical issue with the number one engine.  The flight landed safely without incident at Pensacola International Airport at 9:40 a.m. central time.  Initial reports indicate there were no injuries among the 99 passengers and five crew members on board.  We have notified the NTSB, and when authorized, we will be inspecting the aircraft to assess the damage.  The aircraft is out of service, and we will work to accommodate the passengers to Orlando or their final destination as soon as possible.

A Southwest Airlines Co. flight landed safely Saturday morning following a major malfunction of one of its two engines during a flight across the Southeastern U.S.

The Boeing Co. 737-700 was flying from New Orleans to Orlando early Saturday operating as flight 3472 when it suffered the mishap, causing the jet to quickly divert to Pensacola International Airport in northern Florida at 9:40 a.m. CDT, according to a statement from the airline.

A Southwest spokesman said its initial reports indicated no injuries were reported among the 99 passengers and five crew aboard.

Photos taken aboard the flight showed the Boeing 737-700’s engine inlet completely torn away, revealing extensive structural damage to the engine nacelle that hangs underneath the wing. The spokesman said the failure caused a depressurization of the cabin. The jet’s fuselage, front edge of the wing, horizontal tail stabilizer and winglet were also damaged.

According to tracking data from FlightAware, the 737 was flying around 30,700 feet and climbing before it began descending around 9:23 a.m. CDT.

“There was the loud explosion but after that it was very controlled. Scary, but in control,” according to a passenger aboard the flight who didn't want to be named. “Everyone cheered for the pilot when we landed safely.”

CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA, is the sole supplier of engines to Boeing for the single-aisle 737. Southwest is the single largest operator of the single-aisle workhorse jetliner in the world.

The airline spokesman said the National Transportation Safety Board, Boeing and GE have been contacted by the airline.

A Boeing spokesman said in a statement that it would serve as technical adviser for any inquiry and said the plane maker is “working closely with our customer and CFM to understand the issue.”

A spokesman for GE said its investigators from the joint venture, which is the largest provider of commercial jet engines, was heading to Pensacola to examine the plane, which has been towed to a hangar.

Southwest in the past decade has experienced several high-profile incidents, including a botched landing at New York’s La Guardia Airport in 2013 that collapsed the jet’s nose landing gear, and the tearing away of part of an aircraft’s fuselage skin during 2009 and 2011 incidents, causing cabin depressurization. That prompted the Dallas-based airline to replace structural panels on many of its older 737s.

Original article can be found here:

Passenger on Diverted Flight: Thought it Was a Terrorist Attack 

A flight from New Orleans to Orlando turned terrifying Saturday after an engine suffered a major engine malfunction and serious damage in mid-air, forcing the plane to divert and causing some passengers to fear they were under attack.

Southwest Flight 3472 with 99 passengers and five crew members on board landed safely in Pensacola at around 9:40 a.m. after the engine failure which occurred at cruising altitude, the airline said.

Passengers said they heard a loud boom and saw smoke trailing from the left engine, and saw metal flapping after the smoke cleared.

Oxygen masks dropped, and passengers later saw a jagged gash in the body of the plane. Emergency vehicles were on standby as the Boeing 737 landed.

"A lot of people were crying; I was crying. Especially after all was said and done and hearing how it could have been way worse than what it was," Julie Stevens told NBC station WESH after they later landed in Orlando.

"I thought it was an attack and that the plane was going go down," she said.

The plane left Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans shortly after 9 a.m., and landed without incident, Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said. The plane suffered "a mechanical issue with the number one engine," the airline said.

The plane was bought in 2000, Mainz said. What caused the engine malfunction is still under investigation, the airline said.

"We believe it was an isolated incident," Mainz said. The airline will give passengers full refunds as well as $500 vouchers, he said. The plane landed in Orlando at around 5 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it will investigate the "uncontained engine failure."

Passengers praised the captain and crew for keeping everyone calm.

"Looking at the plane afterwards and seeing that there was a large gash in the back of the plane … had that punctured the interior cabin we'd be dead," Tammy Richards, of Oklahoma City area, said.

"We had an amazing crew," she said. 

Story and video:

PENSACOLA, Fla. —An Oklahoma City family's trip to Disney World took a detour Saturday morning after a Southwest Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing.

A metro woman said she, her husband and their three children -- two of whom are ages 5 and 7, and the third is a baby -- were on Flight 3472 from New Orleans to Orlando when, while over water, she heard a loud explosion.

"It was just a big explosion. There was some smoke and then nothing," she said in a phone interview with KOCO 5. "I saw parts flapping in the wind because it was right outside my window."

The plane started to shake descend rapidly, and oxygen masks fell. People -- including the woman's children -- were screaming and crying while she was trying to stay calm as the plane was falling fast, she said.

"I held my kids, and one was freaking out, crying. And so, we're trying to hold his hand and singing and praying a lot," she said.

"I had my faith in God, so I knew that whatever was going to happen, He was with us," the mother of three said. "So I was able to stay calm. It wasn't until after I got on the ground that I got emotional."

After the pilots stabilized the plane, one came out and told passengers that one of the engines was lost, she said. The pilots conducted an emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida, where Southwest Airlines officials are working to get passengers to their final destination.

"(The crew) stayed professional. They were amazing," she said. "I mean, we couldn't have had a better crew, and it was thanks to that pilot that we're all alive."

The Oklahoma City family is waiting for another flight so they can move past the turbulent start to the vacation. The National Transportation Safety Board is inspecting passengers' luggage, a process that the mother said would take several days.

"I'm nervous, but I'm really shaken up," the woman said. "I'm not going to let it (ruin the vacation). We're just going to put this behind us and move on the best we can."   The trip to the Happiest Place on Earth is the children's first.



  1. What?!? No turbine engine explosion?

  2. "This aircraft is out of service". Well that is a good thing!!!!!!!

  3. The whole back of the engine blew up!

  4. Pretty quiet on the possibility of a government drone collision?

  5. Why does the U.S have an FAA and an NTSB for aircraft accidents? Shouldn't they just be one organization like other countries?

  6. It must have been terrifying for the passengers. Southwest Airlines has alway been one of the BEST for air safety.

  7. That would be rather unnerving if you were sitting alongside the engine. I would have to call for the drinks trolley!

  8. Hope nobody was killed on the ground with falling debris.

  9. The inlet cowl has disintegrated but the rotating engine parts appear to be intact. Very unusual event and for some debris to pierce the fuselage shows it had some significant energy given to it, possibly by a fan blade.

  10. Was this a GE Turbofan CT or some other brand? GR use to be the SWA standard I think.

  11. The NTSB investigates accidents of all kinds (trains, buses, self-driving Teslas, aircraft), while the FAA regulates the nation's National Airspace System. Having a separation allows the NTSB to find fault with the FAA without prejudice, which would not be the case if the FAA was investigating itself.

  12. Nearly identical accident occurred today on another Southwest 737 except this time it involved a fatality. What's causing these engines to come apart?

  13. Well, that could have gone worse. If I was the pilot, I would know my job is to get MYSELF safely to the ground. The fact that there were 99 passengers also hoping that I arrive without damage is icing on the cake.