Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

Southwest Airlines Grounds Boeing 737s with Fuselage Cracks

On Friday, a Southwest Airlines plane heading towards Sacramento made an emergency landing after a 5 foot by 1 foot tear occurred in the fuselage, forcing passengers to rely on oxygen masks.

By mid-day Monday, Southwest had cancelled nearly 70 flights, taking the time to inspect all of its 737s for similar cracks.

Cracks occur on airplane siding all the time, and due to regular inspections, are constantly repaired, reports The Wall Street Journal. The reason why the Southwest 737 crack was undetected is because it occurred where two pieces of metal overlap.

These overlapping joints, which run the length of the plane, do not undergo extensive routine checks, according to the paper.

While you may be questioning the safety of flying on Southwest Airlines' planes, the problem with the Boeing 737 is expected to be worldwide.

Both landing and take-off stress airplane joints, notes The Wall Street Journal. And Southwest Airlines is known for its short city-hopping flights, which is why it is probably the first airline to have this problem.

The National Transportation Safety Board has announced that Boeing will be releasing a service bulletin describing suggested inspection practices, according to Mercury News. They are not expected to be mandatory.

In the meantime, if you had a flight reservation with either Southwest Airlines or another airline grounding flights to inspect its 737s, you may be entitled to compensation, a new flight, or, at the very least, a refund. Contact your airline's ticketing to service to find out about your options.

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