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Southwest Airlines resumes flights after inspecting all jets and finding five with fuselage cracks

April 5, 2011 |  1:11 pm

Southwest Airlines, which resumed normal flight operations on Tuesday, has found fuselage cracks in five other Boeing 737s in its fleet after last week’s emergency landing of a crippled jetliner in Arizona, company officials said.

The popular discount airline has completed checks on 79 Boeing 737-300s for the type of cracks that forced Flight 812 down shortly after departing from Phoenix on Friday afternoon. Chris Mainz, a Southwest spokesman, said the company has finished its inspections and removed a total of six planes from service for further evaluation. The number includes the plane from last week’s incident.

Mainz said the inspections met the requirements of a Boeing Co. service order and an emergency directive by the Federal Aviation Administration that were issued Tuesday.

Both orders require airlines to inspect certain Boeing 737s that have been in heavy use. FAA officials estimate that about 175 planes will be affected, including 80 in the United States.

Southwest canceled about 670 flights over the weekend and Monday after a 15-year-old Boeing 737-300 in its fleet safely landed at Yuma International Airport, which is used by both civilian aviation and the U.S. Marine Corps.

The plane, which was on its way to Sacramento, was forced down when a 5-foot-by-1-foot section of the top of fuselage burst open, causing the cabin to depressurize at 36,000 feet. A flight attendant and a passenger received minor injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.


Southwest's short-haul operations may be linked to jetliner rupture

-- Dan Weikel

Photo: A Southwest Airlines 737 taxis at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday. Credit: Hyungwon Kang / Reuters