Southwest Grounds Aircraft Following Hole in the Roof Incident

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Podcasts Videos Sunday, 3 April 2011

Southwest Airlines has said it is working with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration to determine the cause of a depressurization event during a Phoenix - Sacramento flight on Friday that was consequently forced to divert to Yuma.

Preliminary reports indicate that the aircraft lost pressure through a hole in the roof of the plane fuselage approximately mid-cabin and oxygen masks were deployed shortly after takeoff from Phoenix.

One flight attendant was treated at the scene for a minor injury, as was at least one passenger. No injuries required transport to the hospital.

The airline arranged for a different Southwest Airlines aircraft to transport the Customers on Flight 812 from Yuma to Sacramento last night.

Overnight, the airline worked with engineers from Boeing to further assess the damage to the aircraft and develop an inspection regimen to look more closely at 79 (not 81 as was previously reported) of its Boeing 737 aircraft which are covered by a set of Federal Aviation Administration Airworthiness Directives aimed at inspections for aircraft skin fatigue. Those aircraft will be inspected over the course of the next several days at five locations.

Southwest is cancelling hundreds of flights to accommodate these inspections and as such, customers may experience delays. The airline is advising customers to check the status of their particular flight or rebook their trip before heading to the airport.

"The safety of our Customers and Employees is our primary concern," said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We are working closely with Boeing to conduct these proactive inspections and support the investigation. We also are working aggressively to attempt to minimize the impact to our Customers' travel schedules today."

The 118 passengers on board Flight 812 have received a full refund along with an apology and two complimentary roundtrip passes on Southwest for future flights.

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