Cracks Found in 3 More Southwest Planes

Review of 79 other Boeing 737-300s to be completed tomorrow
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2011 5:00 AM CDT
This photo provided by passenger Don Nelson, shows fuselage rupture that happened in-flight on a Southwest Airlines aircraft Friday, April 1, 2011.   (AP photo/Don Nelson)
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(Newser) – If you were terrified by the story of the five-foot-long hole that opened up in a Southwest plane Friday, you may not want to read further: The airline found small, subsurface cracks in three more planes that are similar to the cracks that may have played a role in that tear. The cracks were found after Friday's emergency landing, which caused Southwest to ground the rest of its Boeing 737-300s for inspection, the AP reports.

The damaged planes will be evaluated and repaired before returning to service; 19 other aircraft have been inspected so far and show no signs of damage, and the remaining inspections are expected to be completed by tomorrow. Southwest canceled about 600 flights over the weekend and will likely cancel more until the planes return to the air. The NTSB says Boeing is developing a "service bulletin" suggesting checks on all other 737-300 models, and an official says the FAA will likely make such checks mandatory.

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