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Thu, Jul 16, 2009

NTSB: Boeing 737 Designed To Limit 'Tear' Damage

Airliner That Depressurized 'Performed As Designed'

The Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 which depressurized after a hole developed in its roof was designed to limit damage in such an accident, according to the NTSB.

File Photo

USA Today reports that NTSB Spokesman spokesman Peter Knudson said Federal regulations require jets to be able to experience a tear in the fuselage without the damage spreading. "This safety feature performed as designed," Knudson said.

The flight, which originated in Nashville, TN was enroute to Baltimore when a 14-by-17-inch rectangle of the airplane's skin tore away, leaving a hole open to the sky near the rear of the aircraft. Passengers reported hearing a loud "Pop" about 30 minutes into the flight, and then the oxygen masks dropped from their compartments above the seats. The pilot made an emergency landing in West Virginia.

Southwest Airlines spokesperson Beth Harbin said the airline inspected all of its Boeing 737-300 aircraft after Monday's incident, and no other problems were discovered.  The plane that depressurized was delivered to Southwest in 1994.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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