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5 comments

Southwest Incident Prompts Emergency Testing

Posted April 05, 2011 10:58 AM by Sharkles

Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) called for emergency fatigue checks on 80 Boeing 737s built in the 1980s and 1990s. The mandatory inspections were issued after the hull of a Southwest Airlines jet was ripped open mid-flight on Friday. "This action is designed to detect cracking in a specific part of the aircraft that cannot be spotted with visual inspection," said the head of the FAA in a statement.

The Southwest jet opened up along a line of rivets, otherwise known as a lap joint. Instead of bolting hull plates together, they overlap by about four inches and are held in place by three rows of rivets.

After Friday's incident, Southwest grounded a number of planes and initial inspections of their 300 series 737s found at least three others with cracking in the fuselage.

The FAA's emergency checks will involve "time consuming and repetitive" electromagnetic checks that are not typically required for the fuselage area of the plane.

Do you think older planes should undergo more thorough testing?

Sources: Reuters, Washington Post

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#1

Re: Southwest Incident Prompts Emergency Testing

04/05/2011 4:05 PM

Yes. Especially those older aircraft with high take-off/landing cycles. The fuselage is stressed every time the plane takes off, then relaxed when it comes back down.

Southwest just paid a $7,000,000.00USD fine for poor maintanence not long ago.

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#2
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Re: Southwest Incident Prompts Emergency Testing

04/05/2011 4:53 PM

Southwest, it wasn't that long ago they were doing pretty good. Bought futures in fuel before it went sky high.

That company structure was used as a model for project management. How quick things can change. A lesson in its self.

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#3

Re: Southwest Incident Prompts Emergency Testing

04/05/2011 7:42 PM

I'll be getting on one of those jets in a couple weeks, so I say, test away.

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Re: Southwest Incident Prompts Emergency Testing

04/06/2011 2:11 AM

Especially the "stretch" 737. Anyone else ever sit in the back of one of those and watch it squirm on takeoff or in turbulence? It has always creeped me out. I am not surprised there is fatigue. Possibly they pushed a little too close to the margin on the design of these jets?

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#5

Re: Southwest Incident Prompts Emergency Testing

04/06/2011 8:16 PM

One look at the heavily painted 737s of the South West should send shudders down the spine the knowing air travelers. The aircrafts have been in service for the last decade and half with countless cycles of take off and landings in wide range of ambient conditions.


FAA have ordered emergency eddy current fatigue checks on 80 Boeing 737s "to detect cracking in a specific part of the aircraft that cannot be spotted with visual inspection" . Naturally it is impossible to carry out visual inspection for cracks or corrosion when the exterior of the air plane is so heavily coated with paint.


FAA may direct the older aircrafts be operated without decorative exterior paint. An unpainted surface will facilitate easy visual spotting of cracks fast and to carryout reliable dye check for any cracks. Aircraft skins are corrosion resistant Aluminium sheet formed from high-purity aluminium surface layers metallurgically bonded to high strength Aluminium Alloy core material to ensure prevention of corrosion. A decorative exterior paint has no engineering value and lack of it will reduce the all up weight of the aircraft.

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