Airlines cancelled more flights

Southwest Airlines was due to cancel up to 70 more flights, or 2 per cent of its Monday schedule, as it inspected older planes for cracks in the fuselage.The airline cancelled about 600 flights and grounded 79 planes over the weekend, after a Boeing 737-300 jet sprang a 5-foot hole in the roof shortly after takeoff from Phoenix on Friday.

The plane made an emergency landing. Southwest said no one was seriously injured.Spokeswoman Brandy King said Monday morning that Southwest had inspected 33 similar planes and returned them to service and expected to complete checks on remaining grounded planes later today, Tuesday.Southwest said three planes had cracks similar to those in the Phoenix jet and would be repaired before they fly again.The Federal Aviation Adminis-tration requires airlines to regularly inspect planes for cracks, which may result from metal fatigue caused by pressurising the cabin while climbing to cruising altitude and decompressing as they drop lower before landing.

The Southwest jet with the torn roof was 15 years old and had made nearly 40,000 takeoff and landing cycles.Boeing produced more than 1,100 of the 737-300 from 1984 to 1999.About 760 remain in use, including 195 in the US, according to aviation research firm Ascend Worldwide Ltd. Southwest has about 170, US Airways has 19 in its fleet.US Airways said Monday it had not grounded nor done additional inspections of its 737-300s.

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