Following this past weekend’s incident in which a Southwest Airlines jet suddenly got a sunroof when a hole opened up in the plane’s fuselage and the subsequent finding of problematic cracking on at least three other Southwest jets, the FAA is set to require inspections of around 175 older Boeing 737s.
From the agency’s statement on the matter:
The FAA airworthiness directive will require initial inspections using electromagnetic, or eddy-current, technology in specific areas of the aircraft fuselage on certain Boeing 737 aircraft in the -300, -400 and -500 series that have accumulated more than 30,000 flight cycles. It will then require repetitive inspections at regular intervals.
“This action is designed to detect cracking in a specific part of the aircraft that cannot be spotted with visual inspection,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.
“Safety is our number one priority,” adds Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Last Friday’s incident was very serious and could result in additional action depending on the outcome of the investigation.”
About half of the 737s to be inspected are registered in the U.S., with most of those being operated by Southwest.