Engine that blew apart
had been worked on, official says

Probe of fatal Delta accident in full swing


July 8, 1996
Web posted at: 11:00 a.m. EDT

PENSACOLA, Florida (CNN) -- The jet engine that blew apart on a Delta jet Saturday was removed from another aircraft last fall for service work, a National Transportation Safety Board official said Monday.

"The area of failure was part of that work," said George Black on NBC.

Black said that the Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 engine was pulled from another plane in November, work was done in December, and it was reinstalled in January.

"There could be" a connection between the engine failure and that work, Black said. "We're looking into that."

NBC reported that the engine in question was removed after smoke from it filled the cabin of a Delta flight to Orlando. The network quoted a Delta spokesman denying a connection between Saturday's incident and the earlier one.

rip in plane

Two people were killed on Delta Flight 1288 when the engine disintegrated Saturday afternoon, hurling metal blades through its casing and into the passenger cabin.

Flight 1288's data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been taken to Washington for review, Black told CNN, and maintenance records for the plane and its failed engine are also being collected for inspection.

The aircraft's crew members were interviewed about the incident Sunday, but officials said there was no indication they did anything improper.


Black said the preliminary investigation showed the fan blades from the failed engine sliced through the plane's skin with tremendous force. A heavy titanium hub from the engine was broken in half, indicating the force of the explosion. One part of the hub was found a quarter of a mile away.

The Pratt & Whitney JT8D is the most widely used type of jet engine in commercial aviation. More than 14,000 JT8D engines have been built since 1964 and most are still in service, powering about 4,000 aircraft around the world, according to Pratt & Whitney spokesman Mark Sullivan.

Engine involved in DC-9 fire last June

CNN has obtained FAA records of Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine failures involving "uncontained" failures, in which metal parts cut through the casing. A computer search revealed 42 such incidents since 1974, when the records database was first computerized.

Saturday's Delta accident, the 43rd such JT8D failure, was apparently the first on record to result in passenger deaths.

A ValuJet flight attendant was burned on June 8, 1995, when a JT8D engine suffered "uncontained engine failure" during a takeoff attempt at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. The DC-9 was destroyed by fire as it sat on the runway.

A check of "Airworthiness Directives" issued by the FAA concerning the JT8D-219 engines, the specific series on the Delta MD-88, revealed there were five warnings since 1988, including two in the last two years, concerning the possibility of fan blade failures causing damage to the aircraft.

In November, 1994, the FAA ordered airlines to inspect a certain section of the engine and install a temperature indicator that might prevent overheating and result in engine failure.

In June, 1995, another FAA Airworthiness Directive was issued, ordering special inspections and lubrication of a section of fan blades to prevent engine failure.

On Saturday, a JT8D engine failure forced a TWA jet carrying 126 people from Seattle to St. Louis to make an emergency landing Saturday. No one was injured, according to TWA spokesman Mark Abels.

The right engine on TWA Flight 114 lost power, but there was no violent disintegration of the metal parts, Abels said.

Delta accident victims released from hospital


Anita Saxton, 39, and her 12-year-old son, Nolan, returning to Michigan from a Florida vacation, were killed almost instantly by metal fragments flung from the engine.

Nolan's brother and sister -- 15-year-old Derrick and 9-year-old Spencer -- were released Sunday from Pensacola's Sacred Heart Hospital. Sitting near their mother and brother when the accident occurred, Derrick was slightly burned and Spencer suffered a facial cut and leg fracture. Derrick carried his sister off the jet after the accident.

Indianapolis resident Paul Kervan, a passenger on the plane, said most passengers thought a tire had blown after hearing a loud pop. But after the pop, passengers heard a scream and noticed "an intensely bad smell." (213K AIFF or WAV sound)

"That's when we knew something was wrong," Kervan said.

Kervan, traveling with his wife and three children, said the evacuation of the plane was quick.

"The passengers' reaction I thought was excellent," he said. "The people were of course scared and panicked, but nobody overreacted and we exited the plane fairly orderly."

Related stories:

Related sites:

Back to the top


Send us your comments.
Selected responses are posted daily.


Copyright © 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.