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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Southwest finds cracks on 5 airplanes after inspections


    With all inspections completed, Southwest Airlines Co. said Tuesday that it has found cracks on five of the 79 airplanes that underwent emergency checks.

    “”Minor subsurface cracking was found in five aircraft that will remain out of service until Boeing recommends appropriate repairs and those repairs have been completed,”” the Dallas-based carrier said in a morning update.

    The airline said it would operate a full schedule Tuesday, welcome news for travelers after three days of cancellations caused by the emergency inspections.

    The airline cancelled an estimated 300 flights on Saturday, 300 on Sunday and 70 on Monday as it checked for cracks on airplanes like the Boeing 737-300 that developed a five-foot-long hole along its top last Friday.

    That airplane diverted to Yuma, Ariz., after the hole developed, causing a rapid depressurization of the airplane. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting an investigation, has removed the portion of the roof around the hole and has flown it to Washington, D.C., to be examined in its labs there.

    The airline said Tuesday that it has completed its inspection of the 79 similar Boeing 737-300s.

    The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to issue an emergency directive Tuesday requiring inspections of 175 Boeing 737-300s, 737-400s and 737-500s worldwide, including about 80 in the United States.

    The majority of the jets covered by the directive are flown by Southwest, but the airline said the FAA order won’t require new inspections of the 79 jets that were grounded.

    “”With our knowledge of what the FAA had planned, we believe the 79 aircraft identified for inspection will accomplish this directive for Southwest Airlines,”” Southwest said.

    While Southwest flies 25 of the Boeing 737-500 model, the carrier said the FAA’s statement “”focuses on a particular set of airplanes not included in the Southwest fleet.””

    Alaska Airlines Inc. said it expected two of its Boeing 737-400s to be covered by the directive, and said the order and inspections won’t disrupt its schedule.

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