Southwest Airlines continued to cancel flights today to conduct emergency safety inspections after a hole in a fuselage was ripped open mid-flight on Friday. The 737-300, scheduled for a landing in Sacramento, made an emergency landing in Yuma, Arizona. The size of the hole was described by authorities as being 1 foot by 5 feet.
Southwest Airlines has 79 737-300’s. Safety inspectors from the FAA, NTSB and Boeing are reported to be examining each of them for metal fatigue. The planes are grounded pending the safety inspections. It’s expected that further investigation of the incident will point to metal fatigue as the cause of Friday’s mishap.
The grounding of the planes caused flight cancellations over the weekend and, according to Southwest Airlines, further cancellations and delays are expected into the day on Monday.
In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, Southwest said that 19 of the 79 planes had passed the safety inspection so far. 2 planes had been found to have ‘small, subsurface cracks’, and they would undergo further evaluation and, potentially, repairs. All 79 planes are expected to be inspected by Tuesday, they said. Southwest has 548 planes in it’s fleet.
Through their site, Southwest Airlines is asking travelers whose flights have been disrupted to call 1-800-435-9792 if they booked their flight through an organization other than Southwest Airlines. Those that booked their flight directly are asked to visit southwest.com/rebook1.