Southwest Airlines Investigates Fleet Fuselage in Light of Mid-Air Crack

According to the Huffington Post, 118 passengers were aboard Southwest Airlines flight 812 when a five-foot hole burst through the fuselage 18 1/2 minutes into the flight. Southwest has since grounded several of its planes while an investigation continues.

Let’s look at the top three maintenance failures among aircraft, with an eye to considering what the fallout from the Southwest Airlines incident will be.

Qantas Engine Failure

According to MSNBC, on Nov. 4, 2010, the engine disintegrated aboard an Airbus A-380 leaving Australia. This Qantas flight was billed as the “world’s largest jetliner.” The engine’s manufacturer was Rolls-Royce. This was the second time in a week that Qantas planes equipped with Rolls-Royce engines suffered failure.

Rolls-Royce lost over a billion dollars in its market value over this incident. Both Qantas and Rolls-Royce denied knowing the cause of either of these events.

Continental Flight 686

Continental Airlines flight 686, going from Houston to Orlando on April 26, 2010, was delayed several hours due to a maintenance worker’s timely notice of fuel leaks and bad O-rings. According to Barbara Farfan, a passenger on the flight, she and the other 200 passengers lost 10 and a half hours, but no lives, in the incident.

Farfan did not think much of the “customer service” she received during her delay, which no doubt led to a drop in the stock price for this airline. She was thankful for the lack of mid-flight catastrophe, however.

American Airlines Flight 767

Early in January this year, American Airlines 767 experienced an engine failure. According to reporter Joe Escobar, the plane was undergoing a high-power run when one of the engines failed, puncturing a wing and damaging the fuselage. A few days later, a piece of the turbine was found half a mile away.

The three mechanics performing the run were not injured.

With so many incidents such as these occurring in just the past couple of years, expect to see increased supervision by the FAA. Passenger apprehension of flight will likely increase as these events become more well known. These factors, along with the increase in gasoline prices, will probably lead to an increase in air travel costs. Southwest will probably face difficulty regaining its economic footing.


Escobar, Joe. “American Airlines 767 Engine Failure.” AMTOnline.

Hoang, Lien, et. al. “Southwest Airlines Grounds About 80 Planes After Mishap.” Huffington Post.

Lowy, Joan, et. al. “Rolls-Royce takes heat over plane’s engine failure.” MSNBC.