Southwest Airlines is grounding dozens of flights Monday, as the airline examines its planes looking for metal fatigue and cracks.
Widespread cracking was found on the skin of the Boeing 737 that made an emergency landing on Friday in Arizona, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. A hole, 5-feet long and 1-foot wide, ripped open on top of the plane at 36,000 feet. It terrified passengers and injured a flight attendant.
"It is very important to find out what happened in this event. We don't want this to happen again. Airplane structures should not fail and rupture," said NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt.
As of Sunday, 19 Southwest planes had been inspected and returned service. Small cracks were found in 3 planes. Investigators want to know if the cracks were missed in a routine maintenance inspection. The section of the plane that cracked was sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington.
"Hopefully they just take this event to be on top of it. Luckily nothing bad happened," said Angel Bucio. The Southwest passenger is not worried about flying to Chicago Monday morning.
Southwest Airlines had a similar problem back in 2009. Metal fatigue caused a football size hole in a Southwest plane. And this is not just a Southwest problem. Back in 1988 an 18-foot piece of plane blew off an Aloha Airlines 737. It killed a flight attendant.
The NTSB says Boeing is sending a service bulletin to other airlines on how to check their planes for similar cracking.
Southwest says customers should call the airline or check their website before heading to the airport Monday.