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Southwest 737 Diverts After a Hole Appears in the RoofCF=0AThe Cranky Flier= =0A[Accidents/Incidents/Southwest] Tuesday, July 14, 2009 10:18:35 AM=0A=0A= Here=E2=80=99s=0Aa weird one for you. Yesterday, Southwest flight 2294 dive= rted to=0ACharleston, West Virginia when a football-sized hole opened up in= the=0Atop of the fuselage. And thanks to the magic of Twitter, someone had= posted a picture from inside the cabin right after it happened. Click at = left to blow it up.=0ASouthwest 2294 was supposed to go from Nashville to B= altimore. It=0Aappears that as it passed through 34,000 feet on the way to = its cruise=0Aaltitude, the hole opened up and the plane lost pressure. The = crew sent=0Athe plane into a rapid descent (as required in order to get to= =0Abreathable air) and 7 minutes later they were at 11,000 feet.=0AIn case = you were wondering, that descent would normally take at least=0Adouble that= amount of time if not more. About 20 minutes after that,=0Athey had an une= ventful landing in Charleston, West Virginia.=0AAll accounts that I=E2=80= =99ve seen have said that Southwest handled this=0Areally well. The plane w= as on the ground just after 6p, and Southwest=0Awas able to find a new plan= e, get it to Charleston (a place they don=E2=80=99t=0Aserve) and get back i= n the air at 945p. They arrived in Baltimore a=0Alittle more than four hour= s after original scheduled arrival. An=0Aimpressive move, indeed.=0ANow let= =E2=80=99s get back to that airplane. This was N387SW, a 737-300 that=0Awas= delivered brand new to the airline on June 29, 1994. So it=E2=80=99s only= =0Aabout 15 years old. (Fun fact for me: I actually rode that plane on=0ANo= vember 18, 1994 from Phoenix to Burbank.)=0AI=E2=80=99m sure we=E2=80=99ll = hear plenty of speculation that compares this=0Arelatively minor incident t= o Aloha Airlines 243, the plane that became=0Aa convertible mid-flight. Don= =E2=80=99t remember that one? Maybe this will=0Arefresh your memory.=0AThat= =E2=80=99s right. This one truly became a convertible. Incredibly, the=0Aon= ly person who died was a flight attendant who wasn=E2=80=99t strapped in. T= he=0Aplane landed safely, and it was impressive enough for a cheesy TV movi= e=0Ato be made about it. But let=E2=80=99s not jump to conclusions about th= is=0ASouthwest flight. =0AThe Aloha incident started with a small hole as t= his Southwest one=0Adid, but then something went wrong. The 737 fuselage is= designed so=0Athat if a hole does develop, it will remain isolated. That= =E2=80=99s what=0Ahappened with the Southwest flight, and the aircraft main= tained=0Astructural integrity. For that reason, this was effectively a non-= event.=0AThe Aloha flight was on a 19 year old 737-200, an earlier version = of=0Athe 737 than in the Southwest incident. That aircraft had frequent,=0A= short flights in salty and humid conditions that ended up causing=0Acorrosi= on. So on that plane, the initial hole, caused by corrosion,=0Aquickly crea= ted outdoor seating as the fuselage gave way. That led to=0Asome major chan= ges in terms of corrosion inspection.=0AOn the Southwest plane, the questio= n is a more simple one. Since the=0Afuselage stayed intact, the only real q= uestion is . . . what caused the=0Ahole in the first place? That=E2=80=99s = what I=E2=80=99ll be interested in finding out. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> If you wish to unsubscribe from the AIRLINE List, please send an E-mail to: "listserv@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx". Within the body of the text, only write the following:"SIGNOFF AIRLINE".
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