November 14, 2018 / 12:03 PM / 6 months ago

U.S. safety board to hold hearing on fatal Southwest engine explosion

Nov 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is set to hold an investigative hearing on Wednesday about a midair incident in April during which an engine on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 exploded over Pennsylvania, killing one passenger.

Dallas-based Southwest has been under intense scrutiny in the months since an engine on a flight headed from New York to Dallas blew apart, shattering a plane window, flinging shrapnel and killing passenger Jennifer Riordan, one of 149 people aboard.

The episode, which has raised concerns about the safety of similar engines, was the first fatality on a U.S. commercial passenger airline since 2009.

The all-day hearing in Washington will focus on the fan blade design and development history of the engine type that failed, a CFM56-7B made by CFM International, a transatlantic joint-venture between General Electric Co and France's Safran SA, the NTSB said.

The hearing will also focus on engine fan blade inspection methods and engine fan blade containment design and certification criteria, the NTSB said.

Representatives from Chicago-based planemaker Boeing, CFM, and Southwest Airlines are due at the hearing.

The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The hearing comes as Indonesian authorities investigate last month's deadly Lion Air crash involving a newer version of Boeing's best-selling single-aisle aircraft, the 737 MAX.

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle

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