Feds Order Emergency Checks of 80 Planes
Older 737s to be inspected after Southwest crack
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2011 1:41 AM CDT
Southwest says it has already inspected most of the planes in question and 64 of them have been returned to service.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(Newser) – The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered emergency inspections of 80 older Boeing 737s similar to the Southwest plane that suddenly cracked open last week during a flight. The order covers aircraft built with a specific process in the '80s and '90s and those that have more than 30,000 flight cycles, ABC News reports. Some 78 of the jets in question belong to Southwest Airlines—which has carried out its own inspections—and two are being used by Alaska Airlines.

Inspectors must use an electro-magnetic process that detects cracks invisible to the naked eye. Neither the Federal Aviation Administration nor Boeing currently requires checks to be carried out on the section of aircraft that cracked open. The incident "could change the conversation regarding the risk of aging aircraft," and lead to tougher, more expensive inspections, the president of the Flight Safety Foundation tells USA Today.