Posted on Thu, Mar. 13, 2008
Southwest Airlines finds cracks in 4 grounded planes
BY: TREBOR BANSTETTER
Southwest Airlines discovered fuselage cracks on four of the airplanes that it grounded for inspections Wednesday, the airline said today.
The Dallas-based carrier took 38 Boeing 737 planes out of service to check for cracks in the exterior above and below passenger windows. It also checked five planes that were already parked for maintenance, and one plane that had recently been retired from the fleet.
A spokeswoman said that 34 of the planes passed the inspections and were returned to service today.
"Four were held for surface repairs, and we expect to have them back in service by the weekend," said spokeswoman Brandy King.
Southwest parked the jets in the wake of a congressional investigation into its airplane inspections. The FAA proposed a record $10.2 million fine last week against the carrier for failing to ground dozens of jets last year after it discovered they had not been examined for potentially dangerous fuselage cracks.
Congress is also investigating whether some FAA officials allowed the airlines to keep the planes in service for up to 10 days despite the inspection lapse.
The airline said Tuesday that it suspended three of its employees in the wake of an internal investigation, and is auditing its inspection records. That review unocovered an additional inspection lapse, which prompted WednesdayÃ
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