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Southwest Airlines Finds Cracks In More Planes

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DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines Co. said Tuesday it finished inspecting its grounded older planes and five of them have cracks in the aluminum skin.

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That’s two more than the airline found by Monday afternoon. Southwest said operations were returning to normal after nearly 700 flights were canceled Saturday through Monday. Southwest grounded 79 older Boeing 737-300 planes after a similar jet sprang a hole in the roof Friday on a flight from Phoenix.

Federal officials say they will order emergency inspections of some older 737s for cracks in the fuselage like the ones on the Southwest jets. The Federal Aviation Administration order was expected on Tuesday.

Southwest said it had already complied with the new order by grounding and inspecting planes over the weekend. The airline said the five planes with “minor subsurface cracking” will remain grounded until Boeing recommends a process for repairing them and the airline completes the work.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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