© Jeremy Martin via WSJ

© Jeremy Martin via WSJ

A fan blade on a jet engine snapped off a Southwest Airlines plane last month in a violent failure that sent debris slamming into the plane, according to a preliminary investigative report released Monday.

Investigators with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found evidence of a crack “consistent” with metal fatigue in the titanium-alloy blade, it said in a statement on the agency’s website.

The Boeing 737-700 was forced to make an emergency landing in Pensacola, Fla., on Aug. 27 after parts of the left engine broke apart, damaging the fuselage, wing and tail. The plane lost cabin pressure and passengers tweeted pictures of themselves with oxygen masks on.

While no one was hurt on the flight from New Orleans to Orlando, some of the 99 passengers reported on social media that the diversion was harrowing as they looked outside and saw the air intake known as a cowling had been ripped loose, exposing the front of the engine. The five crew members also weren’t hurt.

An unidentified shard put a 5- by 16-inch (13- by 41-centimeter) gash in the side of the plane above the wing, according to investigators. The cabin leaked air and lost pressure, though the NTSB said no metal from the engine pierced the cabin and no debris was found within the plane.

The NTSB has not determined the cause of the failure.

Source The Seattle Times

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