US Federal Aviation Administration announced (04-Apr-2011) it will issue an emergency directive on 05-Apr-2011 that will require operators of specific early B737 models to conduct initial and repetitive electromagnetic inspections for fatigue damage. This action will initially apply to approximately 175 aircraft worldwide, 80 of which are US-registered aircraft. Most of the aircraft in the US are operated by Southwest Airlines.
Southwest expects to have nearly all of its grounded aircraft back in the air by late 05-Apr-2011 and to be running a full schedule (theolympian.com/Tribune/MarketWatch/Inquirer/ABC2/AP/Baltimore Sun/Dallas Business Journal/ABC15.com/Inside Bay Area, 04-Apr-2011). As of 15:30 central time, 90% of the grounded B737-300s had been inspected. Sixty-four of 67 aircraft have reportedly returned to service, with three remaining out of service due to subsurface cracks. The aircraft will be out of service until Boeing recommends a repair. Southwest has confirmed the 01-Apr-2011 incident will not change the carrier’s plans to order at least 108 new Boeing aircraft by 2016.
The following airports released information about Southwest service delays and cancellations for 04-Apr-2011:
- Seattle-Tacoma Airport is reporting no cancellations among its 37 scheduled services;
- Orlando International Airport has had 16 services cancelled;
- Philadelphia International Airport has had eight services cancelled;
- Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is reporting no cancellations however is experiencing delays;
- Baltimore/Washington International Airport has had two service cancellations out of 370 scheduled daily services;
- Los Angeles International Airport reported five cancellations.
Southwest shares fell 2% to USD12.46 after touching an intra-day low of USD12.16. For the year to date, the stock is down some 7%.
Another Southwest aircraft has been diverted to LA after a burning electrical smell was detected in the passenger cabin. The 03-Apr-2011 service was en route from Oakland to San Diego. [more - FAA Boeing inspections] [more - NTSB]