To put the 1 April 2011 Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 in-flight fuselage structural failure into some historical context we are re-publishing this airline news video from our friends at AeroSpaceNews.com which was originally published in March 2008. So please keep this in perspective as you watch the video or read the transcript of the narration. As we go to press there are no announced fines linked to the Yuma, Arizona emergency landing event.
Narration of March 2008 Airline News Video:
Southwest Airlines finds itself in the cross hairs of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over allegations the carrier has flown numerous flights while failing to comply with mandatory inspections as called for by an Airworthiness Directive (AD).
The FAA alleges that Southwest flew 46 Boeing 737 jets on nearly 60,000 flights without performing inspections for cracking due to structural fatigue.
This is the very rule that grew out of the investigation of the near plane crash of Aloha Flight 243. In that event most of the plane’s roof departed the aircraft during an inter-island flight.
In a press release, the FAA claims Southwest discovered its own failure to comply with the AD in March 2007 yet continued to operate all 46 aircraft on nearly 1,500 additional flights. According to the FAA, upon conducting the inspections, Southwest found 6 planes with fatigue cracks. The agency is seeking a $10.2 million dollar penalty from the airline who has 30 days to respond.
Editor’s Note: One comment author on YouTube claimed this story was biased because the reference to the Aloha Flight 243 accident stated that “most of the plane’s roof” departed the accident aircraft. We feel that is a matter of semantics. Perhaps it is exactly half or nearly half the cabin top or roof. Seriously, is that what is at issue here? A look at the Aloha Flight 243 pictures shows from about the center of the aircraft forward to the back wall of the cockpit there is not much roof left at all. That is far too much missing roof from any airline jet – as the Brits say, “full stop.” You are welcome to comment here, just keep it civil.