DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A passenger from Dallas described his experience while onboard a Southwest flight that had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia due to, what the NTSB calls, an engine failure. Officials confirmed one person died in the incident.
Matt Tranchin of Dallas was in New York for business and was on his way home from LaGuardia Airport on Tuesday.
Tranchin said he was sitting across the aisle and just three rows back from where a window blew out of the plane. He described the moments immediately after the engine failure.
“Oxygen masks fell. There was panic, confusion. Flight attendants ran over to the window and, one of who immediately began crying hysterically, looking horrified, looking outside of the window, onto what was once the engine. There was a lot of blood. The window that shattered struck a passenger,” said Tranchin.
“The added blood and the whole chaos was… I don’t know what it’s like to be on a plane that doesn’t make it, but it sure as hell felt a lot like that,” he added.
Tranchin said, as the flight was descending, he spent the next 15 to 20 minutes sending text messages to his wife and his parents, saying goodbye.
“We immediately began descending. The airplane began smelling like smoke. There was ash falling through the ventilation system. My friend next to me immediately began putting everything on Facebook, which is when I realized we had internet access, so I spent the next 15, 20 minutes texting goodbye to family,” said Tranchin.
He was able to get through to his wife and parents, assuming the worst but never hearing anything directly from the flight crew until just before landing.
“The only communication that we received was… three to four minutes before we actually landed. The flight crew was going up and down the aisles, saying ‘prepare to land, prepare to land, prepare to land.’ And then maybe 30 seconds before we landed, the pilot got on the intercom and just repeated, ‘brace for impact, brace for impact, brace for impact…’ Terrifying,” said Tranchin.
The passenger from Dallas said he could only judge the situation by the crew’s reaction, and he had assumed the worst. He also couldn’t say enough about the job the crew did in saving their lives.
“I mean, look. I assumed we were going to crash. That was my basic assumption. And so had I been a flight attendant, I don’t know what their training is, but to look outside and see an engine no longer there, with a hole in the side of the plane, smells like smoke, ash everywhere… [it] couldn’t have been a smoother landing,” he said. “It felt like a landing on a somewhat rocky flight that happens a third of the time when you land. The pilot did a heck of a job.”
Tranchin said the last thing he wanted to do was get back on a plane Tuesday night, but he said he needed to get home to his pregnant wife. He said it seemed like several of the passengers on the flight were not continuing to Dallas — at least, not tonight.