FAA orders tests on airplane engines after April 17 fatal explosion

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"CFM recommends ultrasonic inspections within the next 20 days to fan blades of CFM56-7B engines with more than 30,000 cycles since new", it said.

According to CFM International, about 680 motors will likely be affected by the sequence to scrutinize engines with significantly more than 30,000 cycles within the next 20 days.

In its 47th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co.

"The inspections ordered are a sharp step-up from actions by both the European and United States regulators after a Southwest flight in August 2016 made a safe emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida, after a fan blade separated from the same type of engine and debris ripped a hole above the left wing".

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The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency airworthiness directive (EAD) on Friday that requires airlines inspect the fan blades on certain older CFM56-7B engines.

The Boeing 737 used on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 had a fault in one of its CFM56-7B engines.

CFM International, a joint venture between America's GE Aviation and France's Safran Aircraft Engines, said around 150 of the engines have already been examined.

It is not clear how many takeoff-and-landing cycles the engine in Tuesday's accident had gone through and whether it would have been covered by the FAA directive.

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NTSB investigators said the fan blade was showing signs of metal fatigue - cracks from repeated use that are too small to be seen by the naked eye.

Each aircraft has two engines. In both episodes, the first in 2016 and the one on Tuesday, fan blades in the planes' engines broke apart, sending shrapnel into the plane's body.

Jennifer Riordan, 43, and a mother of two, was nearly sucked out of the broken window and pulled back inside by fellow passengers.

Last June, CFM issued a service bulletin to its customers recommending inspections of some of its engines. In that earlier case, a fan blade fractured and broke loose, bouncing in front of the engine's protective cover and then striking the plane, causing it to lose pressure. The jet, which was headed from NY to Dallas with 149 people aboard, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

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After the first inspection, airlines should keep repeating the process every 3,000 cycles, which typically represents about two years in service.

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