SOUTHWEST AIRLINES EXPECTS FOUR AIRPLANES TO BE REPAIRED AND FLYING BY SATURDAY

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By TESTCustomwebLP TESTCustomwebLP April 8, 2011 19:23

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES EXPECTS FOUR AIRPLANES TO BE REPAIRED AND FLYING BY SATURDAY

Four of five Southwest Airlines aircraft with tiny fuselage cracks should be back in regular service by Saturday after mechanics complete repairs, the airline said yesterday.

The Dallas-based carrier inspected 79 of its Boeing 737-300s from Saturday through Tuesday to check for cracks along the lap joints that run the length of the right and left side of the fuselage. The testing found five aircraft with subsurface cracks, one per airplane. The cracks ranged in length from a tenth of an inch to a quarter inch.

“As of today, Boeing has provided repair instructions for all five of the impacted aircraft, which includes the removal and replacement of an 18-inch section of the lap joint,” Southwest said in a statement. Southwest employees have “begun the repair process, with each repair taking eight to 16 hours to complete,” the carrier said.

Southwest said that pending Federal Aviation Administration approval, four of the aircraft will resume service Saturday. The fifth airplane will remain grounded for “previously scheduled maintenance,” the airline said.

The FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive Tuesday requiring inspections of the lap joints of Boeing 737-300, -400 and -500 aircraft built between 1993 and 2000.

The action was prompted by an incident last Friday in which a Southwest jet built in 1996 developed a five-foot-long hole along the lower edge of the lap joints, where sections of the fuselage overlap and are held together with rivets.

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By TESTCustomwebLP TESTCustomwebLP April 8, 2011 19:23
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