|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Federal aviation authorities said on Monday that they would order airlines to inspect some early Boeing 737 models after Southwest Airlines found subsurface cracks in three aircraft during checks that were conducted after a five-foot hole ripped through the roof of a 737-300 jetliner on Friday.
The Federal Aviation Administration said that it would issue an emergency directive on Tuesday requiring inspections for fatigue damage. The action would initially apply to about 175 aircraft worldwide, 80 of which are registered in the United States, and mostly operated by Southwest Airlines.
“Safety is our No. 1 priority,” the Transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, said in a statement. “Last Friday’s incident was very serious and could result in additional action depending on the outcome of the investigation.”
The statement came shortly after Boeing said it was preparing a service bulletin that would recommend “lap-joint” inspections on certain 737-300’s as well as the 737-400 and 737-500 models.
Friday’s incident unfolded at nearly 35,000 feet with the sound of an explosion during a flight involving a 15-year-old Boeing 737-300 carrying 118 passengers from Phoenix to Sacramento. Some passengers reported feeling dizzy during the swift loss of cabin pressure. Oxygen masks were released and at least two people passed out as the pilot guided the plane to an emergency landing at Yuma Marine Corps Air Station in Arizona. No one was seriously injured.
The F.A.A. directive would require initial inspections using electromagnetic, or eddy-current, technology in specific areas of the aircraft fuselage on Boeing 737 aircraft in the -300, -400 and -500 series that have accumulated more than 30,000 flight cycles — one takeoff and one landing. It would then require repetitive inspections at regular intervals.