A Southwest Airlines flight landed safely in Philadelphia Tuesday after the jet violently depressurized when a piece of an engine flew into and broke a window, according to passenger accounts and air traffic controllers.
One passenger’s father-in-law, relaying information from his daughter, said the impact was so severe that a female passenger was partially sucked out of the plane when the window imploded.
“One passenger, a woman, was partially … was drawn out towards the out of the plane … was pulled back in by other passengers,” he said in a phone interview with NBC10.
The Dallas-bound Boeing 737-700 — numbered flight 1380 — made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday after taking off from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. There were 149 people onboard. A ground stop was put into effect at the airport as crews responded.
The jet’s left engine blew shortly after takeoff. A piece of shrapnel apparently flew into a window causing the glass to break.
“There is a hole in the side of the aircraft, also,” the aircraft controller relayed to firefighters at the airport.
Passengers shared photos of the plane’s left engine with major damage. The engine inlet was shredded with metal bent outward. The glass of a window just behind the left wing was missing.
The plane was flying around 32,500 feet when the incident happened, according to an altitude tracking tool on Flight Aware. The plane descended by more than 3,000 feet per minute until the pilots leveled out around 10,000 feet.
Arthur Wolk, an aviation expert, said that is a modest rate of descent and indicated that the pilot had control of the aircraft.
Baur described the crew as “incredible” saying that the pilots and flight attendants acted quickly and calmly.
Still, a window bursting mid-flight left some passengers worried for their safety.
One terrified passenger posted a live video to his Facebook page during the ordeal. The grainy footage shows a man attempting to secure his yellow oxygen mask while updating loved ones following his feed.
“Something is wrong with our plane! It appears we are going down! Emergency landing!! Southwest flight from NYC to Dallas!!” Facebook user Marty Martinez wrote. He then added, “We are bracing for landing!!”
The woman who apparently was pulled out of the plane is said to have been rushed to a Philadelphia hospital, Baur said.
In a brief statement, Southwest Airlines said they were working to gather more information.
“Safety is always our top priority at Southwest Airlines, and we are working diligently to support our customers and crews at this time,” the statement said.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.