Boeing says 737 planes must be checked for fatigue cracks

Boeing is to advise airlines around the world to inspect older models of the 737 for fatigue cracks.

The US government is expected to order emergency inspections and safety regulators in other countries will make similar orders.

This comes after a Southwest Airlines plane had to make an emergency landing in Arizona on Friday.

A 5ft tear opened in the fuselage 20 minutes after take-off resulting in a sudden loss of pressure.

Luckily no-one was hurt and the plane landed at a military base.

The Texas based airline discovered the problem in the fuselage during an investigation following the incident.

A company spokesman for Boeing said: “Boeing is committed to ensuring safe flight and to supporting our customers.”

A directive is expected from the US Federal Aviation Administration instructing inspection of the fuselage in the older models of 737-300.

Over 900 of the aircraft are used world-wide, and the low operating costs of the 737s make them a favorite with low cost airlines.

But it is thought only 175 of the heavily used planes will need to be inspected.

Easy Jet operates 3 of the 737 aircraft and budget airline BMI baby uses 12.

BMI baby said it would be working with Boeing to see if action was required.

Boeing said: “The 737 … is based on a key Boeing philosophy of delivering added value to airlines with reliability, simplicity and reduced operating and maintenance costs.

“Advanced technology winglets allow airlines to save on fuel, extend its range, carry more payload and reduce engine maintenance costs.”

And Carolyn Corvi, head of Boeing’s 737 programme, added: “The newly redesigned 737s weigh less than the A320 and therefore require lower engine thrust.

“This means the 737s use less fuel, and have lower engine maintenance costs and lower navigation and landing fees.”

The fuselage is the main body of the aircraft that holds crew, passengers or cargo and often the engine.

Sarah Taylor