Tragic Southwest 737 That Blew an Engine Two Weeks Ago Flew Again Today

Two weeks ago a Southwest Airlines flight from New York LaGuardia to Dallas Love Field made an emergency landing in Philadelphia after experiencing an uncontained engine failure.

The inlet and pieces of the engine cowl separated from the plane. Debris hit the side of the fuselage and shattered a window. The aircraft lost pressure. A female passenger was nearly sucked out of the plane. Passengers pulled her back inside. Despite those efforts a passenger died, and several others were injured.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737

The occurrence aircraft, N772SW, flew today from Philadelphia to Paine Field in Everett, Washington as SWA8700. Southwest has been bringing planes to Aviation Technical Services in Everett for over 40 years.

There’s a lot still to learn about the incident and it’s not surprising to see the plane sent to Everett for that.

(HT: @BrianSumers)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Isn’t 5 hrs for a PHL-PAE flight very fast? Going west it usually takes me 5 hrs to go from Baltimore to PHX and that flight is probably 400 miles shorter.

  2. @rich Maybe they had good winds and they were likely travelling a heck of a lot lighter without all the passengers/luggage/food etc. Just speculation.

  3. Surprising they would send it across the country — if it’s still in bad enough shape that it’s worth examining, I would not expect it to be air-worthy. On the other hand, if they fixed it up enough to fly, it seems like they would have destroyed the most useful evidence.

    I would have guessed they examine the plane where it sits in a case like this.

  4. @Ben The NTSB & FAA likely documented everything they needed to and gave the go-ahead for WN to fix up the plane and send it to PAE. They would never allow WN to destroy evidence on an ongoing investigation if they still needed it.

  5. I wonder if SWA will fly this plane with passengers again or if they will sell it to a cargo or discount airline? The downside of keeping it, if another tragedy occurs, outweighs the 20 or 30 million dollar benefit of keeping it.
    Does SWA make enough to replace their fleet after 30,000 cycles? I have no idea but if they did it may give them a competitive advantage over legacy carriers that love to stretch the life of their aircraft. At the least SWA will consider replacing or overhauling a lot of engines. And then the big question: will they charge more for short flights? If the real cost of flying is engine cycles, higher costs for short flights may be necessary. SWA is blazing new trails here because no other airline stays airborne with 5-6 across seating like they do. And every single customer will pay $10 extra each way if they can fly with new engines less likely to come apart then old clunkers.

  6. @Leef33
    I imagine Southwest will keep flying this aircraft with a new tail number. The plane is only 18 years old and will have not only have a new engine (or two) but may very well be the safest plane in the skies once repaired.

  7. @Rick. Your comments have the most validity and I agree. The others, well the level of ignorance is staggering.

  8. @Juan. I believe the tail numbers can Not be changed. FAA regulation. These numbers are given at time of manufacturing. They will probably put in a rotation of use that keeps it theoretically in hibernation.

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