One person died and seven others were injured when a battered Southwest Airlines jet with a blown engine and smashed window made a perilous emergency landing in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Dallas-bound Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 out of New York had 144 passengers and a crew of five onboard, Southwest said in a statement. The plane was met on the tarmac by a phalanx of emergency vehicles that quickly sprayed the area with safety foam and aided the injured.
“We do have information there was one fatality,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. He said the plane engine would be closely examined to determine what caused the tragedy.
Passenger Marty Martinez posted a brief Facebook Live video showing him donning his oxygen mask. “Something is wrong with our plane!,” he wrote. “It appears we are going down! Emergency landing!! Southwest flight from NYC to Dallas!!”
Southwest said the Boeing 737-700 left New York’s LaGuardia Airport shortly after 10:30 a.m. ET, bound for Dallas Love Field. The airport said the plane had landed “safely” and that passengers were being brought into the terminal. Details on what happened were not immediately released.
Sumwalt said the fatality was the first passenger death on a commercial U.S. airline since 2009. Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said seven people suffered minor injuries.
Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chief executive officer, commended the flight crew for safely landing the plane but said the company and the NTSB were in the early stages of investigating exactly what led to the incident.
“This is a sad day and on behalf of the entire Southwest family, I want to extend my deepest sympathies for the family and loved ones of our deceased customer,” Gary Kelly, the company’s chief executive officer, said in a video statement. “Truly this is a tragic loss.”
Thiel said a small fire was found in one engine and fuel was leaking. At least one window and the fuselage were also damaged, officials said.
Passenger Amanda Bourman told the Associated Press she was sitting in the back of the plane when she was awakened by a loud bang. Some passengers were soon in tears while others shouted encouragement, she said.
“Everybody was crying and upset,” she said. “You had a few passengers that were very strong and they kept yelling to people, you know, ‘It’s OK, we’re going to do this.’”
Her husband, Timothy, told philly.com the plane quickly dropped after the noise, and some passengers started yelling in panic. Bourman said passengers were told to brace for impact, but the pilot was able to land.
“We’re just all really thankful to be alive right now,” he said. “Thankful to God, thankful to that pilot.”
Flights continued to arrive and depart, but the incident led to delays of other flights, the airport said in its statement. The FAA had issued “ground stop” for planes on the ground at other airports waiting to depart Philadelphia. The ground stop was lifted shortly before 2 p.m.