Weather RADAR has helped officials track debris associated with Southwest Airlines Flight 1830 which had a fatal accident in eastern Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
The plane, which had taken off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport bound for Dallas, made an emergency landing just before noon in Philadelphia on Tuesday. About an hour into the flight shortly after the plane reached cruising altitude of 33,000 feet, an explosion occurred in the aircraft’s left engine. The explosion ripped off a large portion of the fan casing and turbine blades that led to high energy shrapnel shots impacting the wing and a passenger window. When the window was struck, it broke open, resulting in rapid decompression which partially sucked a female passenger out of the plane. Injuries during that event to the passenger’s head, neck, and back proved to be fatal. While the fatally wounded passenger was brought back into the plane completely by other passengers and flight crew, debris from the incident rained over portions of eastern Pennsylvania.
The National Weather Service Doppler NEXRAD radar at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, captured debris coming off the plane to the ground in Pennsylvania. Pieces of the cowling which covers the engine were subsequently found. NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt told reporters that one of the engine’s fan blades was separated and missing. The blade was separated at the point where it would come into the hub and there was evidence of metal fatigue, Sumwalt said.
On Wednesday, the NTSB released photographs of some debris on the ground. “Thanks to the general public, these and other parts have been found,” said the NTSB in a statement. They encouraged anyone who has found additional pieces to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Weather Service weather RADAR does more than pick up the weather. At other sites on other days, bats and birds can be seen. In the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, RADAR was able to show the debris field from the disintegrating shuttle across portions of Texas and Louisiana.