It was a gruesome accident that shocked the nation. One year and half later since the fatal Southwest Airlines flight 1380, investigators are set to present their findings to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in a meeting to be held in November 2019. The board is expected to determine the probable cause of the April 2018 accident that led to the death of a passenger who was partially sucked out of the window.

Following a lengthy investigation, the NTSB announced on October 15, 2019, it will be holding a board meeting on November 19, 2019, to determine the probable cause of Southwest Airlines flight 1380 engine failure and depressurization accident. At the meeting, which will be open to the public, investigators will present their report, including the probable cause, findings and safety recommendations, for review and approval by the board, leading up to the final accident report expected to be released by December 2019.

"Within a few hours of the completion of the meeting, the abstract of the final report is published, containing the probable cause, findings and recommendations," the agency’s spokesperson Christopher O’Neil was quoted as saying by the Dallas Business Journal. "The full final report generally posts within a few weeks thereafter," he added.

Southwest says it continues to participate in the ongoing NTSB-led investigation, together with other parties, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), GE Aviation, and Boeing among others. “We appreciate the work of the National Transportation Safety Board and each of the parties working to determine the probable cause of the accident,” Southwest said in a statement to AeroTime on October 16, 2019. “We all have the same goals: to share facts, learn what happened, and prevent this type of event from ever happening again.''

Southwest Flight 1380

On the morning of April 17, 2018, Southwest Boeing 737-700 (reg. N772SW), powered by two CFM56-7B turbofan engines, was en route from New York’s La Guardia Airport (LGA) to Dallas Love Field (DAL) in Texas, when it suffered an uncontained engine failure during climb at about 32,000 feet. The accident occurred when a fan blade of the left engine failed, separating from the engine hub. The resulting debris from the inlet and fan cowl pierced the 737’s wing and fuselage, shattering one of the plane’s windows and causing rapid cabin depressurization.

The flight crew was forced to make an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL). There were 149 onboard the plane, including 144 passengers and five crew members. One passenger, later identified as Jennifer Riordan from Albuquerque, New Mexico, died of her injuries after she was partially sucked out of the aircraft when the window she was sitting next to blew out. Flight attendants aided by two passengers were able to pull the woman back inside the plane. It was the first fatality on board a Southwest flight and the first death in a U.S. commercial airline accident since 2009. Another eight passengers suffered minor injuries. The aircraft was substantially damaged as a result of the accident.

CFM International engines

During a press conference on April 17, 2018, the NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt stated that the engine failure on the Boeing 737-700 occurred approximately 20 minutes into the flight. The flight crew initially reported engine fire, but later clarified instead that the engine was missing parts and the aircraft was operating on a single engine. The engine cowling was later discovered about 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia, the NTSB chairman added. During the preliminary examination on site, the agency’s investigative team discovered that one of the engine’s fan blades (Nr.13) was missing, having separated at the root. Further inspection found evidence of metal fatigue at the region where the blade separated, Sumwalt confirmed.