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Fatal Southwest Accident relies on widely used engine



The engine damage that killed a passenger on board

Southwest Airlines
Co.


LUV -1.13%

Flight puts one of the industry's most used engines at the center

CFM International – a joint venture between General Electric Co. and France

saffron
SA


SAF -0.02%

makes engines that have become a mainstay of commercial aviation. The engines drive the most

Boeing
Co.


BA 1.49%

and the single-aisle aircraft of Airbus SE, the workhorses of the industry.

On Tuesday, one of the two CFM56-7B engines crashed on a Boeing 737-700 operated by Southwest. The engine broke apart when the plane was at cruising altitude, and flew from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Dallas Love Field with 149 passengers and crew aboard. Metal parts hit the hull, though the details of what happened in the cabin are still unclear.

The southwest two years ago suffered a similar failure on another CFM56 engine and forced the plane to land without injury

The probe of this incident showed signs of fatigue cracks in some of the blades. In response, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed improved inspections of certain CFM engines last year. It has not yet made the security fix mandatory. The National Transportation and Safety Board said it will investigate whether there are common factors for the two CFM56 incidents in the Southwest.

The airline said on Tuesday that it is intensifying inspections of the CFM56 deployed in its fleet. CFM International said it would send a team of experts to support the NTSB probe.

The widespread use of the engine and its unusually dramatic failure will likely trigger more control over fleets around the globe. European air safety supervisors said Wednesday they "assess the situation" and work with US colleagues.

On average, a CFM56 aircraft takes off anywhere in the world every two seconds. The CFM56-7B version, which participated in the Tuesday incident, has been in service since 1997 and is used in more than 6,700 aircraft.

Engine failures are rare, but not unknown.

Robert Sumwalt,

Www.mjfriendship.de/de/index.php?op…80&Itemid=58 NTSB chairman said the investigators identified three to four incidents each year. Englisch: www.mjfriendship.de/en/index.php?op…95&Itemid=55.

Another engine that has an Airbus A380 superjumbo powered by

Air France

failed on a flight from Paris to Los Angeles in September. The plane diverted to Goose Bay, Canada. The accident investigation is still ongoing.

Another on a Boeing 767 from

American Airlines Group
Inc.

Exploded in 2016 when departing from Chicago O & # 39; Hare International Airport for unexpected component wear. The passengers suffered injuries during the evacuation of the aircraft.

Engines are the often overlooked lifeblood of the aviation industry. The engine manufacturers spend billions of dollars to achieve fuel efficiency improvements in small percentages to promote commercial aircraft buyers.

Aerospace companies and aircraft manufacturers have recently experienced operational headaches due to problems with these mini-power plants. British aircraft engine builder

Rolls-Royce Holdings

PLC last week warned that some of its engines would require more frequent inspections of Boeing 787 Dreamliner long-haul aircraft because the components were phasing out faster than expected. US regulators have prescribed airlines using these engines to bring aircraft closer to airfields that they may be distracting to.

Airlines using these engines had to land planes due to an earlier round and cancel flights of controls on them. Rolls-Royce, no longer affiliated with the manufacturer of luxury cars, said it could take at least 2021 to repair all the engines.

Pratt & Whitney, a unit of

United technologies
Corp.

, has been struggling with the development and production of its new geared turbofan engine. The engine manufacturer has stopped deliveries to Airbus to repair the design of components that have worn out too soon. The airlines were forced to idle aircraft due to action taken by European air pollution control authorities. Pratt has said that it works to fix the problem.

CFM is also struggling with its latest engine, the Leap, which is used on Boeing's new 737 Max Narrow-Body and some Airbus A320 models. GE Aviation President

David Joyce

Last month, the company said it had about six weeks late engine deliveries to Boeing and Airbus.

Contact Robert Wall at robert.wall@wsj.com and Doug Cameron at doug.cameron@wsj.com


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