Sacramento bound Southwest Airlines flight 812 made an emergency descent this evening after a large hole appeared in the fuselage. The photo above was shot by a passenger on the plane who described the event in great detail on her Twitter account.
According to Flightaware.com, the plane dropped 16,000 feet in one minute, and some passengers reportedly passed out due to lack of oxygen from the rapid decompression. Despite the major damage, only one flight attendant was injured.
The hole is at least three feet long, and exposed wiring and other airplane parts. According to CNN, the FAA is sending a team to Yuma International Airport to inspect the plane.
Passenger Shawna MalviniRedden has more photos on her Twitter account, including one of the pilot of the plane and the view from her seat.
This is not the first time a Southwest Airlines plane has suffered damage like this — in 2009, another Boeing 737 had to make an emergency landing when a “football sized” hole appeared. That incident prompted a fleet wide check of all 737’s.
Before you break out in a panic and start booking train tickets, remember that this plane had a three foot gash, and still held together perfectly. Kudos to the flight crew for bringing the plane down safely.
According to a source, the plane in question was a Boeing 737-3H4 which entered service with Southwest in 1996.
Photo courtesy of @BluestMuse/Twitpic