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NTSB: Metal Fatigue Found on Southwest Engine; Witness Describes Southwest Flight; Melania Trump to Attend Barbara Bush's Funeral, Unknown if Trump Will Attend; Trump Press Conference with Japanese Prime Minister. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 18, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Unfortunately, one woman did die, passenger, Jennifer Riordan (ph), from New Mexico, a Wells Fargo executive, a wife and mother of two. Riordan (ph) was nearly sucked out of the plane window after the explosion shattered it.

Meantime, Southwest Airlines just announced it is, quote, unquote, "accelerating" its existing engine inspection program relating to the CFM56 engine family.

We are also expecting an update from NTSB officials at some time this afternoon. The chairman says investigators found signs of metal fatigue on the left engine that failed. And they released this video showing investigators examining the engine. Its edges just totally torn and ripped apart. There was also a fan blade missing from the plane's operating engine. The FBI is asking anyone who finds plane debris to contact the Philadelphia office as soon as possible.

With me is Alan Armstrong, a pilot and aviation attorney who represents crash victims. He is standing next to a jet engine similar to the one on the Southwest 737.

Alan, thank you for joining us from Georgia.


BALDWIN: This is a similar plane. Tell me what kind of plane you're standing next to and walk me through the anatomy of an engine first and foremost.

ARMSTRONG: OK. A jet engine has been called a cylinder of spinning sabers. So here's your cylinder and your spinning sabers are the blades. There are the blades. The air rushes into the engine, the air is compressed by the blades. As the air is compressed, there is I.G. natinition and that gives you power to the aircraft. In commercial aircraft, there is a containment belt to keep these blades from penetrating and flying out the nacell. Apparently, the belt may have failed but we don't know that for certain. The questions are how did this happen? You have these engine components spinning at a tremendous rate of speed. If there is a fatigue crack possibly due to centrifugal force --

(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: Alan, can I jump in, sir?


BALDWIN: These are the blades and a preliminary look shows one of its 24 fan blades missing and there was this evidence of metal fatigue, which from what I read is not obvious to someone doing maintenance on the external piece, right? Explain metal fatigue for me and how you detect it.

ARMSTRONG: OK. An aircraft engine works on principles of heat. The engine is cold and then it gets hot and you shut it down and it gets cold again. The metal is expanding and contracting, expanding and contracting, expanding and extracting, getting larger and smaller, and that can cause pressure to the engine. We don't know what this part was. We don't know what part this was. One thing we do know apparently is that it had a fatigue crack and it departed the engine by virtue of centrifugal force.

BALDWIN: A lot of people watching you right now are thinking could my next aircraft be at risk? Are other airlines, other planes -- could the same risk exist?

ARMSTRONG: Brooke, they're all at risk. They're all at risk, Brooke. Every one of them is at risk.

BALDWIN: So how do we make sure this doesn't happen on any of the planes in the future?

ARMSTRONG: Flying is risk assessment and mitigating risk, Brooke. We cannot completely eliminate the risk if we're going to operate aircraft. We can inspect, survey and examine but we cannot guarantee.

BALDWIN: Wow. And as a pilot, Alan, what do you make of this pilot who really saved the day?

ARMSTRONG: Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. My hat's off to her. Great job. Great job.

[14:34:26] BALDWIN: Alan Armstrong, I appreciate you. Thank you very much for your expertise, just walking us through what might have happened. This flight, no question, terrifying.

Next, we'll speak to a passenger who was buying time on the Internet as the plane was going down, and live streamed this experience, desperate to make contact with the outside world, perhaps to say good- bye thinking he wouldn't survive.


BALDWIN: I'm out of adjectives for this story. Terrifying, harrowing, insane moments for passengers for flights of Southwest Airlines flight 1380. First a boom, oxygen masks deploy, an airplane window bursts, turning into a gaping hole, sucking a female passenger halfway out of the plane. It ended with an emergency landing so violent that passenger, Marty Martinez, thought they were crashing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTY MARTINEZ, PASSENGER: You hear on the intercom a panic, "Brace for landing, brace for landing."


BALDWIN: We have him here with us. Let's hear it from Marty.

Nice to have you on.

MARTINEZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Have you slept? Has this hit you? How are you feeling?

MARTINEZ: I slept about three hours last night, and, like I know it happened to me because I'm talking about it, but it still hasn't quite settled in. You know, I've been talking to a lot of the media and stuff and, for the most part, like I'm finding out a lot about this information --


BALDWIN: From us.

MARTINEZ: Yes, from you guys.

[14:40:06] BALDWIN: So you're on this plane, you're into the -- it's taken off from New York, you think you're going home to Dallas. You're 20 minutes or so into the flight. You hear this boom. What next?

MARTINEZ: I didn't know what to think of it. It was so out of the ordinary that everybody kind of looked at each other like did you guys just hear that? And shortly after all the oxygen masks deploy across the entire cabin. That's when, OK, something is happening and there was no announcement or anything at that time in a span of about five to ten seconds and then we hear another explosion. That's what we knew we were probably in really big trouble.

BALDWIN: Was that the window?

MARTINEZ: That was the window going out.

BALDWIN: So you were sitting roughly row 17, two rows and across the aisle is this window and the woman.


BALDWIN: Do you see her? Do you see her getting sucked out?

MARTINEZ: So I saw a lot of people being around her and a bunch of passengers had rushed over to kind of hold her down. And all the while the flight attendants are trying to tend to her as her body is being kind of subjected out. Luckily, she had her seat belt and the help of passengers. BALDWIN: So they managed to pull her back in. She ends up dying but

it's my understanding there was a nurse on board who was administering CPRA practically through landing.

MARTINEZ: Right. There was a lot of people giving her attention over there and there was even a gentleman that came from the front of the plane back there to tend -- to help with the situation. And he kind of positioned himself in front of the window in an effort to stop like the suction.

BALDWIN: Are you thinking this is it?

MARTINEZ: Oh, absolutely. There was a million things going through my head and all I could think about was how can I get a message out to loved ones? And rather than put on my oxygen mask, I reached for my laptop. In an effort to buy Wi-Fi as the plane was going down. Immediately, I was thinking I wanted to get out text messages and at least get final words out to the people I loved and to be put in that situation where, you know, then you have to prioritize who you give that message to and what do you say? And that was incredibly paralyzing for me. So I thought, how could I get in contact with people at scale and I immediately thought of Facebook Live. So I Facebook Lived the entire experience. Really not with the intent of really truly cataloguing it.

BALDWIN: You wanted to reach out to loved ones because you thought you were crashing.


BALDWIN: You thought you were done.

MARTINEZ: Right. And to think about that and, you know, like I'm pretty young and aspirational, you know. And just like everyone out there, you make these trips for the future. And you think that it's promised to you. I have flights booked months in advance or I'll do that next year when I have more money or have I more time.

BALDWIN: Time is now, my friend.

MARTINEZ: And going through that like the feeling that everything I ever wanted to do was being stripped away from me in that moment was an incredibly gut-wrenching feeling.

BALDWIN: How entirely awful. We are glad you are OK. Of course, our thoughts, the woman, the mother, who passed away. Extraordinary on behalf of this pilot, former Navy fighter pilot.

We're so glad you're OK and we were able to talk to you about it.

Thank you so much, Marty.

MARTINEZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We wish you absolutely the best.

MARTINEZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: I appreciate it.

Next now to breaking news out of Puerto Rico. Experiencing this entire island-wide power outage seven months after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island's infrastructure. What caused the outage, next.

[14:44:02] And new details on the guest list for the funeral of former first lady, Barbara Bush. Will President Trump, who has been critical of her sons, will he attend?

Stay with me.


BALDWIN: The American flag there flying at half staff at the White House in honor of one of its previous first ladies, Barbara Bush. She, the family matriarch of the Bush family dynasty, passed away at 92 years of age last evening.

Today, we have word first lady, Melania Trump, will be attending the funeral, but still no word on whether President Trump will be there.

Tributes are pouring in for Mrs. Bush. Her son, former president, George W. Bush, says, true to her character, his mother was cracking jokes with her doctors even in those final weeks.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Laura and I went over to see her a week ago Saturday and we had a good visit. She was strong, lucid.


BUSH: Funny. She and I were needling each other. The doctor came in and she turned to the doctor and said, do you want to know why George W. is the way he is? The doctor looked somewhat surprised. She said, "Because I drank and smoked when I was pregnant with him."



BALDWIN: Her husband of 73 years, former president, George H.W. Bush, released the following statement of his wife, Barbara, quote, "I always knew that Barbara was the most beloved woman in the world. In fact, I used to tease her that I had a complex about that fact. But the truth is the outpouring of friendship and love being directed at "The Enforcer" is lifting us all up. We have faith she is in heaven. And we know life will go on as she would have it. So cross the Bushs off your worry list."

With me, someone who has covered the Bush family and known them for years, our CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel. Jamie, what a beautiful piece from her husband, and all those years together. What do you make of that?

[14:50:38] JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: And 73 years of marriage and she used to always tell her children that he was the first man she ever kissed, the only man she ever kissed, and they used to roll their eyes.

But I'll tell you something, that -- what you just read from President Bush 41, as we call him, is classic George Bush. What did he say at the end? Don't worry about us. That is -- that goes to the core of who he is. And I also love the interview with his son, we call George Bush 43, because it really goes to his relationship with his mom. He always likes to say I have my daddy's eyes but my mother's mouth. And that explanation of her being feisty with the doctor says everything you need to know about Barbara Bush, also a classic line from her.

BALDWIN: Guest list, Jamie, who is going this weekend?

GANGEL: So we know as of today that first lady Melania Trump is going. We also know that former President Bill Clinton and secretary of state Hillary Clinton are going. So the Clintons are going. The Obamas are going. Both former President Obama and Michelle Obama are going. We don't know quite yet about the Carters yet. And, of course, the big question is will President Trump go. And we're sort of waiting to hear about that.

BALDWIN: Waiting.

Jamie Gangel, thank you so much.

GANGEL: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Please watch Jamie's interviews with the Bush family. Go to

Speaking of President Trump, thank you, he is contradicting himself today on the reason he fired FBI Director James Comey, and now Comey has responded.

Also, the president tweets for the first time on Stormy Daniels, essentially calling her claim that a man threatened her to stay quiet a lie.

Stay with me.


[14:57:07] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, everybody.

Prime Minister Abe and I have spent a lot of time today and we really spent a lot of time since I got elected and right from the beginning we hit it off. The relationship is a good one. We talked North Korea, covered that yesterday, a little bit today. We're talking military and of course we're talking trade, what we're going to be doing now mostly is trade, as the prime minister knows, they've done very well with the United States.

We have a very big deficit and we're going to weed that down, hopefully, to get a balance at some point in the not too distant future. But we have a massive deficit with Japan. We will, I believe, at the end of a fairly short period of time, be able to do certain things. I know they're ordering large numbers of airplanes, both jet fighters and passengers planes and it's in the tens of billions of dollars. They'll not only get the best planes, but we'll help with the process of equalization.

This is a very exciting meeting for me because I like this maybe the best. I love the world of finance and the world of economics and probably it's what I do the best, but we will be able to work things out.

I'm very happy to have Larry Kudlow with us. He's a special man. He's been a friend. I've been on his show many, many times over the years. We've had a lot of fun together. We haven't always agreed, but I notice lately Larry is agreeing more and more with me, which makes me quite happy.

And John Bolton was very much involved yesterday with our meetings on North Korea and our meetings on the military.

It's great to you have you and Larry with us. It's a real honor. Thank you very much for being here.

Mr. Prime minister, thank you very much for being here and your representatives. The relationship has been so good with all of us. And let's see how we do with, right now, the trade deficit.

Thank you very much for being here.

BALDWIN: So as they address in Japanese, let me just jump in. This is all part of the big two-day meeting with the prime minister of Japan there, sitting across the table from the president of the United States. The president flanked by a number of members of his cabinet. His chief of staff looks to be on the phone there at the end of the table. He's probably listening to the translation from Japan from Japanese.

Elise Labott is with me. She covers the State Department and meetings such as these.

Elise, just set the stage a little bit more. We know they're talking trade. Let's step back in.

Hang on, Elise.

TRUMP: When they send a car to us, it's 2.5 percent tax. When we send a car to them, number one, they don't take it and, number two, it's 25 percent tax. And then you wonder why we have a $500 billion of imbalance. It's not right. Hopefully, the word reciprocal will be the primary word we're using. We use that with every nation now because the United States has not been properly led on trade. Our people have let us down. Whether it's our presidents or our representatives, they've let us down.

but is still unknown if President Trump will be attending.>