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FAA will require inspections of engines made by Butler County company

The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday evening it will require inspections of aircraft engines made by a Butler County company involved in the emergency that killed at least one passenger on Southwest Flight 1380.

“The FAA will issue an airworthiness directive within the next two weeks that will require inspections of certain CFM56-7B engines,” the FAA said Wednesday evening. “The directive will require an ultrasonic inspection of fan blades when they reach a certain number of takeoffs and landings.”

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The Southwest Airlines Co. accident Tuesday killed a passenger after blasting debris into the jet’s left wing, the Boeing 737’s outside fuselage and even into the passenger cabin, breaking a cabin window.

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Safety experts are asking whether U.S. regulators and engine makers have “underestimated the role of the engine cover” in the unlikely event engine parts break loose in flight, the Wall Street Journal is reporting Thursday.

CFM International is a joint venture of General Electric and French company Safran based in West Chester Twp. in southeastern Butler County. The company issued a statement yesterday saying it intended to participate in and assist the investigation into flight 1380.

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“CFM will support the (National Transportation Safety Board) and Southwest Airlines in determining the cause of the accident,” the Butler County company said in its statement. “CFM and its parent companies, GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, will make every resource necessary available to ensure support.”

CFM also said that, by law, it cannot provide information “about the accident or details related to it.”

“I’m very concerned about this particular event,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said at a press briefing Wednesday.

Sumwalt also said the widely used CFM engine has a solid safety record and it was too early to determine if the accident pointed to a broader hazard for travelers, the Journal reported.

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