Hole Opens Up in Plane, Forces Emergency Landing [Updated]

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Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

"Widespread cracking" on the skin of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 caused a five-foot-by-one-foot hole to open up mid-flight, requiring the plane to make an emergency landing in Arizona on Friday. Eighteen minutes after the plane took off from Phoenix, Arizona, a hole opened up on the top of the aircraft, causing the plane to depressurize. Inspection on the aircraft found "clear evidence that the skin separated at the lower rivet line" where "the skin comes together on the aircraft." Fortunately no one was seriously hurt, but passenger Greg Hansen recalled, "Most people were just white knuckles holding onto the arm rests. The pilots did a great job and were under control to get us to a manageable level," he said. In response to the incident, Southwest canceled around 300 flights on Saturday to inspect its fleet of aircraft. Southwest offered passengers a full refund, an apology, and two complimentary round-trip passes, which we're sure will be used sometime soon.

On Sunday, a pressurization problem forced an American Airlines plane to make an emergency landing at JFK airport. The flight was en route from Boston to St. Thomas when the incident occurred. The flight landed safely, and all passengers were transferred to another flight.

AA Jet makes emergency landing at JFK, days after Southwest cabin scare [NYP]
'Widespread cracking' found where hole opened on Southwest jet [CNN]