I've been reading with great interest and concern about the recent Southwest flight that resulted in the first fatality in that airline's history.
There's one question I haven't seen answered, though: Was the plane really in serious danger of crashing?
I have long understood that two-engine commercial airliners are designed to be flown safely with one engine. However, are they designed to be flown safely with only one engine as well as a depressurized cabin and broken window? Do these three things in combination make a plane significantly harder to fly or land than just an engine failure?
The passengers aboard this plane had plenty of reason to be terrified, what with oxygen masks dropping from the ceiling and a woman nearly being sucked out of the plane (and ultimately dying from the head trauma she suffered), but the accounts I've read seem to suggest that many thought crashing was the most likely outcome and were preparing for their death.
I don't want to take anything away from the pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, who clearly performed superbly under stress and exhibited the highest level of professionalism, but was her safe landing anything other than the expected outcome?