Southwest Airlines Inspecting Boeing 737s, Canceling Flights After Hole in Aircraft Forces Emergency Landing

Saturday, April 02 2011 09:53   Western Travel Buzz
UPDATE: Southwest Airlines said on Monday it expected to cancel approximately 70 flights from its April 4 schedule as part of its ongoing inspection of Boeing 737 aircraft.

The airlines said passengers should continue to check schedules before heading to the airport to get specifics about their particular flight. Southwest said it expects to complete the inspections of 79 Boeing 737 aircraft by late Tuesday.

ORIGINAL STORY: Southwest Airlines is working closely with federal agencies to determine the cause of a depressurization event on one of its Boeing 737s during a Phoenix to Sacramento flight on Friday that diverted to Yuma, Ariz., the airline said April 2.

Southwest expected to cancel approximately 300 flights on Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3, to accommodate the inspections. The Dallas-based airline said it is working to minimize customer delays as crews inspect the aircraft.

southwest_airlinesCustomers should check their flight status on the Web site or rebook their trip on before heading to the airport, the airline said. Customers may experience sporadic delays of up to two hours on some flights.

Preliminary reports indicated the aircraft lost pressure and oxygen masks were deployed shortly after takeoff from Phoenix. After the plane landed safely in Yuma, Ariz. the crew confirmed a hole in the top of the aircraft, approximately mid-cabin.

Overnight, the airline worked with engineers from the Boeing Company to further assess the damage to the aircraft and develop an inspection regimen to look more closely at 79 of its Boeing 737 aircraft which are covered by a set of Federal Aviation Administration Airworthiness Directives aimed at inspections for aircraft skin fatigue.

The aircraft will be inspected over the course of the next several days at five locations, a Southwest spokesperson said. Southwest is working with representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

"The safety of our Customers and Employees is our primary concern," said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We are working closely with Boeing to conduct these proactive inspections and support the investigation. We also are working aggressively to attempt to minimize the impact to our Customers' travel schedules today."

The 118 passengers on board Flight 812 have received a full refund along with an apology and two complimentary roundtrip passes on Southwest for future flights.

One flight attendant was treated at the scene for a minor injury, as was at least one passenger. No injuries required transport to the hospital. The company arranged for a Southwest Airlines aircraft to transport the Customers on Flight 812 from Yuma to Sacramento Saturday night.


Related Articles