(ABC)- Southwest Airlines says it has canceled roughly 1 percent of its scheduled flights as it carries out inspections prompted by an engine failure that led to a passenger’s death last week. About 40 flights were affected.
A Southwest Boeing 737 took off Tuesday morning from New York, headed for Dallas. About 20 minutes into the flight, at about 32,500 feet, a fan blade broke off the engine and shrapnel shattered a window.
Jennifer Riordan, 43, and a mother of two, was almost sucked out of the broken window and pulled back inside by fellow passengers. She died from blunt force trauma at a hospital after the plane’s emergency landing in Philadelphia.
After the incident, Southwest Airlines said it was accelerating its existing engine inspection program relating to the CFM56 engine family “out of an abundance of caution” over the following 30 days.
In a statement Sunday it said that its flight cancellations had been minimal.
“We have minimized flight disruptions this past week through actions such as proactive aircraft routings to cover open trips, performing inspections overnight, and utilizing spare aircraft, when available. On Sunday, we only canceled about 40 flights due to fan blade inspections out of a planned schedule of almost 4,000 flights,” the airline said.
Southwest said its cancellations were the result of a “voluntary, accelerated engine fan blade inspection program” rather than inspections ordered by US and European aviation authorities. It recommended customers check their flights’ status on its website.