The Atlanta Injury News Blog

Cracks Found on Southwest Planes

Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds of flights earlier this week as a result of its Boeing 737-300 inspections. According to the Associated Press, the airline said in a statement that two of its Boeing 737-300 planes had cracks, which needed to be evaluated and repaired before returning to service. The National Transportation Safety Board said later that a third plane also had cracks developing.

The inspections are at least partly due to a Southwest plane having its fuselage rupture after a takeoff in the city of Phoenix last week. The flight had 118 people on board and the pilot was able to make a controlled descent from 34,400 feet into a southwestern Arizona military base. Nobody was seriously injured from the plane's malfunction.

Southwest could soon be facing several personal injury lawsuits if they're not careful. Fuselage failures are rare, but could have deadly consequences. Federal records show that cracks were found and repaired a year ago in the frame of the same Southwest plane.

An inspection in March 2010 also found 10 instances of cracking in the aircraft frame, which is part of the fuselage. Another 11 instances of cracked stringer clips were also found during the inspection, according to a review of FAA records. Yet the records show that the cracks with the March 2010 inspection were repaired and that all the damaged parts were replaced.

AP reported that it's also fairly common for fuselage cracks to be found during inspections of aging planes. We'll see what legal action, if any, will be taken after the recent Southwest accident.

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