"One passenger, a woman ... was drawn out towards the out of the plane ... We started dropping", he said.
He described the chaos and said even the flight attendants were crying in fear. She was out of the plane. Tranchin said he texted family members to say goodbye as the plane descended.
At least one passenger died during the incident. "We are still on the plane and they are trying to revive a woman on the plane".
National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt said the plane's engine will be taken apart and examined to understand what caused the failure. Southwest became the nation's largest domestic air carrier in 2003 and maintains that ranking based on the U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent reporting of domestic originating passengers boarded.
Unfortunately we lost a passenger to a heart attack.
Southwest released a statement about the death on Tuesday.
Thiel told reporters that firefighters "found a fuel leak and a small fire on one of the engines". After the plane landed, a woman was hospitalized in critical condition, and seven others were treated for minor injuries, authorities said. No injuries were reported, but the plane sustained extensive damage similar to what happened Tuesday: the engine's inlet was torn away revealing additional damage to the fuselage, wing, winglet and tail stabilizer.
The plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport on Tuesday as passengers put on oxygen masks and braced for impact. The team is expected to arrive around 4:30 p.m. ET, and will begin an immediate inspection of the engine and fuselage.
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"There are various iterations of that (engine) and so I can't say exactly what that air worthiness directive might have applied to at this point, but that will be part of our investigation", he said.
"I imagine it was a hard flight", Thiel said in what fliers would likely call a gross understatement. The Philadelphia International Airport said in a tweet that the plane landed safely and passengers were being brought into the terminal.
No other details are available at this time.
Airport officials said the FAA issued a temporary ground stop for all planes headed to Philadelphia's airport, but it has since been lifted.
Passengers also posted photos on social media of the damaged plane. Photos of the plane on the tarmac showed a missing window and a chunk gone from the left engine, including part of its cover. "Emergency landing! Southwest flight from NYC to Dallas!" 737-700 was ripped open. They didn't immediately explain what went wrong.
The company says that type of engine is installed on more than 6,700 planes and has flown more than 350 million hours since its introduction in 1997.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Southwest Airlines said there were 143 passengers on board, along with five crew members.
"There are protection rings around the engine to keep shrapnel from coming out. The cabin was completely depressurised, oxygen masks were deployed".