PHILADELPHIA — The flight crew on the Southwest Airlines jet that was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after an engine exploded described the harrowing experience in their first joint interview on Wednesday.
Capt. Tammie Jo Shults called her first officer Darren Ellisor an “unsung hero” on “CBS This Morning,” saying he helped communicate with the flight attendants while she took controls for the landing.
Shults, who was one of the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. Navy, said her military training helped her keep calm.
Meanwhile in the cabin, flight attendant Rachel Fernheimer said she made sure to reassure passengers that everything would be OK.
The crew had met together before the flight and one of the topics they discussed was faith, according to Shults. Flight attendant Seanique Mallory said considering what happened moments later, “God had already prepared us without us even knowing.”
The plane was heading from New York to Dallas on April 17 when one of the engines on the Boeing 737 exploded at 30,000 feet.
Part of the engine struck a window, shattering it and causing a partial loss of pressure that led to 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, being partially sucked out. She died later.
Shults said while she is glad the plane landed safely, “the survival of 148 never eclipses the loss of one.”
A preliminary finding by the National Transportation Safety Board showed one of the plane’s engine blades snapped due to metal fatigue.
Dallas-based Southwest executives said crews inspected its fleet and found only one engine blade that showed signs of cracking.