Tests on all of Southwest’s fleet of 737-300s to end by Wednesday
Out of 22 Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-300 aircraft grounded and inspected for cracks similar to those that are thought to have caused a hole to appear in the cabin roof of another aircraft mid-flight, three were found to have small sub-surface cracks. There were additional crack indications in the lap joints. The remaining 19 are returning to service. Engineers are expected to complete the special test developed by Boeing on the airline’s 57 remaining aircraft of this type by Tuesday evening. Southwest Airlines has had to cancel 600 flights to cover for the inspections.
The aircraft with the ruptured fuselage landed safely in Arizona on Friday. Passengers, visibly shaken after their ordeal, said there was a sudden loud bang and a 1.5 metre-long rip appeared above their heads causing a serious drop in air pressure. Pilots quickly made a fast controlled descent from 10,485 metres and landed at a military base. The ruptured fuselage has now been transported to Washington for in-depth analysis. There are 931 of this 15-year-old aircraft in service worldwide.