An Observation Regarding the Southwest Engine Explosion Flight

I’ll preface this by saying it is the inner-geek/NTSB agent in me that realized this, as it’s a bit morbid.

If you haven’t heard, there was a recent Southwest Airlines flight, #1380 that operated from New York, Laguardia to Dallas Love Field on April 17th of this year. However, soon after takeoff, the left engine exploded, sending shrapnel inside the fuselage of the aircraft, and sucking one person out of a broken window. The passenger, a woman named Jennifer Riordan, was not only partially sucked out of the plane, but severely injured by flying debris caused by the engine explosion. Though the crew were able to pull her back in, she succumbed to her injuries.

Here’s the thing. This is the first passenger on Southwest to die due to accident/incident. Of course, AirTran, which was acquired by Southwest, had their own accidents (especially when they operated as ValueJet; the incident in the Everglades would make a good podcast subject!). And Southwest itself had a runway overrun where one person was killed, though it was a child in a car that the airplane hit. And another person tried to break into the cockpit, was restrained, and then later died of the injuries received during the scuffle. But Southwest has never had, until now, a death due to accident. Until now.

When you think of traditional carriers like Alaska (Flight #261), American (Flight #587), United (Sioux City, Iowa), and Delta (wind shear in Dallas on an L-1011), it’s unfortunately easy to pick out an accident with the loss of life. So it’s a somber moment for Southwest, and a club no airline sets out to join.

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