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‘We All Feel We Were Simply Doing Our Jobs.’ Southwest Pilot Who Landed Plane After Engine Explosion Speaks Out

2 minute read

The pilots who landed the Southwest Airlines flight after an engine blew out, leading to the death of one passenger, spoke out for the first time.

Pilots Tammie Jo Shults, who has been hailed as a hero for her calm response to the mid-air calamity, and Darren Ellisor said, “we were simply doing our jobs,” when they safely brought the Boeing 737 down for an emergency landing in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

“Our hearts are heavy,” the pilots said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers are we all reflect on one family’s profound loss.”

NTSB investigators said they believe a fan blade on one of the plane’s jet engines broke, which led to the engine to explode and caused a plane window to shatter, partially sucking out the passenger sitting next to it. The passenger, bank executive Jennifer Riordan, later died at a hospital. Seven others were injured.

The National Safety Transportation Board, which is investigating the event, said Shults was a “hero” for managing to alert traffic control and land the plane without further death or injury.

Read the full statement below:

As Captain and First Officer of the Crew of five who worked to serve our Customers aboard Flight 1380 yesterday, we all feel we were simply doing our jobs. Our hearts are heavy. On behalf of the entire Crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss. We joined our Company today in focused work and interviews with investigators. We are not conducting media interview and we ask that the public and the media respect our focus.” — Southwest Captain Tammie Jo Shults and Southwest Airlines First Officers Darren Ellisor.


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Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com