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Problems Plague Aging Airline Fleets As Southwest Cancels Flights For Safety Inspections

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Southwest Airlines Plane - Grounded Planes Due To Safety InspectionsSouthwest Airlines is expected to cancel around 100 flights nationwide on Monday as the airline continues to conduct safety inspections on its fleet.

On Friday, Southwest Flight 812 out of Phoenix, Arizona, was 18 minutes en route and 36,000 feet up when a 5-by-2 foot piece of the fuselage ruptured, causing the cabin to lose pressure.

The incident terrified the plane’s 118 passengers, but no one was seriously injured and the plane landed safely on a Arizona military base.

So far, the budget carrier has canceled about 600 flights in order to conduct inspections on its entire fleet.

Investigators found small cracks on the plane and three other Southwest aircraft.

According to the inspection, there were signs of “persistent fatigue along the entire fracture surface.”

However, many of these cracks were not easy to find with only a visual inspection, making some air safety officials to question whether a new inspection criteria may be necessary. 

This isn’t the first time Southwest has had problems with the fuselages on its 737s: Hole In Fuselage Prompts Southwest To Inspect All 737s

Southwest Airlines Logo - Southwest Not Only Airiline Plagued By Mechanical ProblemsThe Southwest emergency landing was just one of a string of incidents over the weekend.

On Sunday, an American Airlines flight from Boston to St. Thomas was forced to make an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy Airport after developing a pressurization problem in the cabin.

Later that night, a Southwest Airlines flight was diverted to Los Angeles because of a burning electrical smell in the passenger cabin.

And early this morning, a United Airlines flight out of New Orleans was forced to turn back after smoke was reported in the cockpit.

No passengers were injured on any of these incidents.

By Adriana Padilla for

Related Links: Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Los Angeles Times

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