Misaligned Rivets Found on Ruptured Southwest Jet

NTSB finds fatigue cracks along tear in Boeing 737's skin
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2011 1:57 AM CDT
A section of the torn fuselage skin from the Southwest Airlines plane is seen during a news conference in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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(Newser) – A federal investigation has revealed possible manufacturing flaws behind the mid-flight fuselage rupture of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 earlier this month. National Transportation Safety Board probers have discovered that rivet holes on one layer of the 15-year-old aircraft's skin did not line up properly with the layer below, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Fatigue cracks were found emanating from at least 42 of the 58 rivet holes along the tear, which caused a sudden cabin depressurization and forced pilots to make an emergency landing. The NTSB report did not speculate on whether the incident was a one-off manufacturing error or a systemic problem that could affect many other Boeing 737s still in service, CNN notes.

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