2016-08-27 Southwest B737 inflight engine casing separation over Florida

2016-08-27 Southwest B737 inflight engine casing separation over Florida

2016-08-27 Southwest B737 inflight engine casing separation over Florida


During cruiseflight, the aircraft experienced a catastrophic failure of its left engine. The pilots managed to make an emergency landing at Pensacola, FL.

Southwest Flight WN 3472 took off from New Orleans Intl Airport (MSY, KMSY) at 09:10L on runway 01 and made a normal climb-out to its assigned en-route altitude. While the 737 was climbing through 31.000 ft, heading east over the Gulf of mexico, approximately seven miles south of the western tip of Horn Island, a catastrophic failure of the foreward casing of the left engine (model: CFM-56-7B24) took place. 

About 12 minutes after departure, the air-inlet cowl detached, broke away and plummeted into the sea.

The pilots immedately dicontinued their climb and initiated an emergency descend.

There is indication that debris impacted the hull leading to a loss of cabin pressure and oxygen masks were deployed to passengers and crewmembers. 

The flight was given vectors for an emergency landing at Pensacola Airport, FL where the 737 touched down safely on runway 17 about 20 minutes later. However, post-flight inspection showed substantial damage to the fuselage near the overwing exit, the wing root section and further debris impact damage to the left horizontal stabilizer. 


Southwest Airlines flight 3472, experienced an uncontained engine failure and cabin depressurization while climbing through flight level 310. None of the 99 passengers and 5 crewmembers onboard were injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight crew declared an emergency and diverted to Pensacola International Airport (PNS), Pensacola, Florida. more..

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Aircraft Involved

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Type: Boeing 737-700
Registration: N766SW
Age a/c: 16.4 years
Constr. No.: 29806

Occupants & Casualties

Crew Pax Other Total
Occupants 5 99 0 104
Fatalities 0 0 0 0
Injuries  0 0 0 0


Date: 2016-08-27 Time: 09:22
Location: KPNS PNS Pensacola Regl area
Country: United States of America
Flight phase: ENR – Cruise, Descent, Holding
Damage to a/c: substantial

Flight no.: WN 3472
From: KMSY/MSY: New Orleans Intl To: KMCO/: Orlando Intl
Type: Passenger
Operator: Southwest Airlines

JACDEC 25-year Statistics :

  • 69th safety occurence for the operator
  • 102nd safety occurence of type (B737-700)
  • 3rd safety occurence at Pensacola Airport
  • 2nd safety occurence for aircraft in question
    – 2015-05-26 cargo smoke indication near Los Angeles

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