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Tammie Jo Shults was a captain with Southwest Airlines who became a household name and a sought-after public speaker after guiding a Boeing 737 with one good engine, wing damage, a depressurized cabin, and multiple system failures to a safe landing in Philadelphia on April 17, 2018, with her first officer, Darren Ellisor.
Shults, who retired from the airline in August, is a pilot’s pilot. She readily agreed to share with our general aviation readership some key “aviation takeaways” about handling the “unscripted combination of emergencies” she and Ellisor had to confront as the stricken jet’s aerodynamic behavior changed from minute to minute during their effort to diagnose the damage and divert to their emergency destination.
To recap, Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 departed LaGuardia Airport in New York City headed for Dallas, and was climbing through FL320 just after 11 a.m., when the left engine of the Boeing 737-7H4 destructed, ejecting fragments that struck the fuselage, the left wing, and the left horizontal stabilizer. “One fan cowl fragment impacted the left-side fuselage near a cabin window, and the window departed the airplane, which resulted in a rapid depressurization,” notes the NTSB’s accident report.
Aboard were 144 passengers and five crew. One passenger, Jennifer Riordan, 43, suffered fatal injuries; eight others received minor injuries.
Shults recalled feeling the jolt of the engine’s destruction before hearing it.
“We went through a pitch-over, a snap roll, and a skid in one moment in time,” she said.
The crew’s first impression was that the left engine was on fire, but the aircraft’s behavior kept changing, and what had happened was unclear.
“You know what? We prioritized,” she said.
All pilots learn the “aviate, navigate, communicate” method of handling trouble—but in the real world, linear training concepts come with a twist.
“Sometimes you get through ‘aviate’ and you’re right back to ‘aviate,’” she said. “In an emergency, you don’t always get to go through all three before you cycle back to what’s getting your attention.”
There was a plume of smoke, condensation had formed in the cockpit, and a deafening roar told the pilots that the aircraft had been compromised. They knew rapid decompression had occurred by the “icepick pain in both our ears, and then you realize you are not able to breathe,” she said.
In any aircraft with a two-pilot crew, it is essential to know who is flying the aircraft. Ellisor
This post was originally published by AOPA on . Please visit the original post to read the complete article.