Photo: News photographers huddle around the damaged piece of the Southwest Airlines
flight 812 at NTSB headquarters in Washington (Reuters)
Four Southwest planes, repaired for cracks, will likely return to service by Saturday. Airline officials say the 5th plane with cracks in the skin will be held back for additional, previously schedule maintenance.
Southwest grounded 79 of its older Boeing 737 aircraft for inspections after a hole opened in the roof of a similar plan over Arizona last week, forcing an emergency landing. The defective plane will be flown to a maintenance center for permanent repairs until Boeing determines how to fix the problem.
Boeing has already provided instructions on how to fix the cracked planes, which is usually a 2-day job.
According to ABC News, National Transportation Safety Board investigators are analyzing a chunk of the roof around the 5-foot-long hole this week in Washington. Investigators want to determine why it came apart.
After last week’s incident, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered airlines to conduct detailed inspections of the same area on specific models of older 737s that have made at least 30,000 flights, and to inspect them again every 500 flights.
Southwest has nearly 80 planes covered by the order. The airline is back operating a normal schedule of about 3,400 flights today.