FAA Investigating Foot-Long Crack To Southwest Jet

The Federal Aviation Administration is probing how a foot-long crack appeared on the skin of a Southwest Airlines plane, a 737 manufactured by Boeing.

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The crack caused the plane to gradually lose cabin pressure during a flight on Monday, March 9, from Las Vegas to Boise, Idaho. Flight records show that the pilots began a rapid, 6-minute descent from 39,000 feet to 22,000 feet, a suitable altitude to continue to fly and complete the flight.

The story was originally reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The FAA said a post-flight inspection showed a 12-inch crack in the skin of the plane’s crown. Airlines are required to inspect that area every 1,500 flights. The FAA said it was too early to know whether the frequency of inspections should be increased.

A Southwest spokeswoman said the pilots did everything correctly and “followed standard procedures by descending to a lower altitude to maintain a safe and comfortable cabin environment. The aircraft did not incur a rapid depressurization, masks were not deployed, and the aircraft did not require a diversion to maintain the safety of the flight.”

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