Southwest Airlines said early this morning it is working with the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of a depressurization event during a Phoenix-Sacramento flight on Friday that diverted to Yuma, Ariz., for a successful emergency landing. Further, the carrier has decided to keep a subset of its Boeing 737 fleet out of the flying schedule to begin an aggressive inspection effort in cooperation with Boeing engineers.
“The safety of our Customers and Employees is our primary concern, and we are grateful there were no serious injuries,” said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We have launched personnel to Yuma to begin the investigation process with the NTSB, FAA, and appropriate parties to determine the cause of the depressurization.”
There were 118 passengers on board and five Phoenix -based crew members aboard Flight 812. Preliminary reports indicated the aircraft lost pressure and oxygen masks were deployed. After the plane landed safely in Yuma, the crew confirmed a hole in the top of the aircraft, approximately mid-cabin. One flight attendant was treated at the scene for a minor injury, as was at least one passenger. No injuries required transport to the hospital. The Company arranged for a Southwest Airlines aircraft to transport the Customers from Yuma to Sacramento last night.
Southwest is working with Boeing on an inspection regimen for the 81 affected Boeing 737 aircraft in the fleet, which are covered by a set of Federal Aviation Administration Airworthiness Directives aimed at inspections for aircraft skin fatigue. These aircraft will be inspected over the course of the next several days.