Southwest Probed After Hole Opens Midflight

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2009 1:16 AM CDT
An investigator looks at a hole on top of a Southwest Airlines plane.   (AP Photo/The Charleston Gazette, Chris Dorst)
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(Newser) – Southwest Airlines' maintenance practices are coming under tight scrutiny after a football-sized hole opened in the top of a Boeing 737 midflight and forced an emergency landing, reports the Dallas Morning News. Nobody was injured, but the NTSB and FAA have launched probes and lawmakers are being briefed on the investigation.

The airline was fined $7.5 million earlier this year for allowing planes to fly with fatigue cracks, and the same problem is suspected to have caused Monday's potentially catastrophic incident. "It does seems like fatigue to me, based on what I’ve learned,” said one expert. “I don’t think Southwest is an unsafe airline, but they’ve had some issues."