Southwest grounds planes, investigation underway

As a result of Sacramento bound Southwest Airlines flight 812 making an emergency descent Friday night after a large hole appeared in the fuselage, 79 Southwest planes have been grounded.

While no one was seriously injured Friday as the Southwest flight carrying over 100 people rapidly lost cabin pressure and made scary descent from 34,500 feet, landing safely in Arizona, questions about maintenance of the aircraft are being asked.

The Associated Press reports that a review of Federal Aviation Administration records of maintenance problems for the 15-year-old plane showed that “in March 2010 at least eight instances were found of cracking in the aircraft frame, which is part of the fuselage. The records showed that those cracks were repaired.”

“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 in a statement on Southwest’s web site. “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.”

Southwest is working with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing, builder of the aircraft to determine the cause.

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Flickr photo by gTarded