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Southwest Airlines bounces back from Boeing incident

“Only about 100 planes were grounded,” said Brandon Fried, executive director of the Air Forwarders Assocation. “We get that many aircraft pulled just when a major weather event occurs.”
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
April 07, 2011

The abrupt withdrawal of Boeing 737 aircraft from Southwest Airlines’ fleet had little impact on shippers, said an industry leader.

“Only about 100 planes were grounded,” said Brandon Fried, executive director of the Air Forwarders Assocation. “We get that many aircraft pulled just when a major weather event occurs.”

Meanwhile, Southwest said today that it has completed all aircraft inspections in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airworthiness Directive (AD) that was released on Tuesday, April 5. The airline began operating a normal schedule Tuesday morning and does not anticipate the directive impacting the schedule moving forward.

“Now that our inspections are complete and the FAA has issued an AD for the rest of the world-wide 737 fleet, our focus shifts to completing the repairs and getting the aircraft back into service,” said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.  “Our event, though obviously not what we would want to happen, is ultimately working to improve the effectiveness of 737 inspections and maintenance programs world-wide.”

During the airline’s inspections of aircraft this week, minor subsurface cracking was found on five Southwest aircraft which will remain out of service until Boeing’s recommended repairs are complete.  As of today, Boeing has provided repair instructions for all five of the impacted aircraft, which includes the removal and replacement of an 18-inch section of the lap joint. Southwest’s Maintenance and Engineering Department has begun the repair process, with each repair taking 8 to 16 hours to complete.

Matt Buckley, Southwest Airlines’ senior director of cargo and charters, told LM that any disruption in service was “minor.”

The airline anticipates returning four of the five aircraft back into service by Saturday (pending the appropriate FAA approvals), with one aircraft remaining in previously scheduled maintenance. The incident aircraft has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) but the airline does not have a repair update at this time.

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About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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