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ABQ's Jennifer Riordan Killed on SWA Flight

April 17, 2018
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Engine Disintegrates, Causes Sudden Cabin Depressurization

New York-Dallas Flight Makes Emergency Landing in Philadelphia

Jennifer Riordan, a prominent Albuquerque banking executive, was killed when an engine on a Southwest Airlines 737 passenger jet blew up in flight, sending shrapnel through a window just aft of the wing, according to media reports.

Jennifer Riordan was fatally injured on the flight from NewYork's LaGuardia Airport to Dallas Love Field around noon Tuesday when left engine debris destroyed the window next to her, creating a sudden cabin depressurization at altitude that threatened to suck her out of the airplane. The airplane made a sudden descent and made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that an email sent to parents at Annunciation Catholic School confirmed that Jennifer Riordan, a longtime Albuquerque community volunteer,  whose two children attend the school, was killed in the event.

Riordan also was a board member of the New Mexico Broadcasters Association.

Jennifer Riordan was a vice president of community relations at Wells Fargo Bank in Albuquerque and was active in corporate philanthropic events in the Metro area. She was the wife of Michael Riordan, former Mayor Richard J. Berry's chief operating officer.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly called her death a "tragic loss." Several other passengers were injured in the incident.

Newsweek reported that Tammie Jo Shults was identified by passengers as the pilot who landed SWA Flight 1380 after the engine failure, according to Heavy.com. Shults is being hailed as a hero.

It was the first fatality resulting from a commercial airline failure in nine years and the first in Southwest's 51-year history.

Preliminary analysis of the failed engine by the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates aircraft accidents, revealed  a fan blade in the left engine suffered metal fatigue and broke off, damaging other parts of the engine, which then disintegrated and sent metal pieces flying into the left side of the fuselage and window at row 14.

Southwest said the engine  that failed had been inspected last Sunday.

Tuesday's engine failure led the NTSB to order inspections of all engines of that type on all U.S. airliners, with a focus on the 400 to 600 oldest examples still in service. The engine is a CFM56, which is made by a partnership between General Electric and Safran, a French company.

Reuters reported that in August 2016, a Southwest flight made an emergency landing in Pensacola, Fla., after a CFM56 fan blade separated and debris ripped a hole near the left wing. That prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to propose that all CFM56 fan blades undergo ultrasonic inspections and be replaced if they failed inspection.

Will Ferguson & Associates is Albuquerque's largest personal injury law firm and has expertise in aviation accidents. Will Ferguson, the managing attorney who founded the law firm in 1983, is a former member of the lawyer's-pilot's aviation bar. He has handled complex aviation accident litigation. Call Will Ferguson and Associates today at 505-633-7070 to speak with a member of theirstaff and to schedule your no-cost consultation to discuss your case.

 

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