Southwest Airlines said today it is working with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration to determine the cause of a depressurization event during a Phoenix- Sacramento flight on Friday that diverted to Yuma, Ariz. Overnight, the airline worked with engineers from the Boeing Company to further assess the damage to the aircraft and develop an inspection regimen to look more closely at 79 (not 81 as was previously reported) of its Boeing 737 aircraft which are covered by a set of Federal Aviation Administration Airworthiness Directives aimed at inspections for aircraft skin fatigue. Those aircraft will be inspected over the course of the next several days at five locations.
Southwest expects to cancel approximately 300 flights today to accommodate the inspections. Customers may experience sporadic delays of up to two hours on some flights today. Customers should check the status of their particular flight or rebook their trip on southwest.com before heading to the airport.
“The safety of our Customers and Employees is our primary concern,” said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We are working closely with Boeing to conduct these proactive inspections and support the investigation. We also are working aggressively to attempt to minimize the impact to our Customers’ travel schedules today.”
The 118 passengers on board Flight 812 have received a full refund along with an apology and two complimentary roundtrip passes on Southwest for future flights.
Preliminary reports indicated the aircraft lost pressure and oxygen masks were deployed shortly after takeoff from Phoenix. 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 on Flight 812 from Yuma to Sacramento last night.