Southwest Flight 812: Plane's Roof Comes Off

If is playing a April Fools joke, it’s a bad one.

Southwest Flight 812 left Sky Harbor Airport around 3:25 p.m. and landed safely at Yuma Marine Corps. Air Station at 4:07 p.m., said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Passenger Brenda Reese said the top of the Boeing 737 ripped open, leaving a gaping hole between 5 to 6 feet long.

Southwest is my preferred airplane and I will be very interested to hear the results of the investigation.

Southwest Flight 812 PhotoUpdate: An article from the Yuma Sun includes a good photo showing the hole. The article indicates that the Southwest plane landed at Yuma International airport. Perhaps the Marine Corps. Air Station and Air Port are one in the same.

Southwest is canceling flights to inspect planes, according to the Southwest website.

Southwest expects to cancel approximately 300 flights today to accommodate the inspections. Customers may experience sporadic delays of up to two hours on some flights today. Customers should check the status of their particular flight or rebook their trip on before heading to the airport.

The 118 passengers on board Flight 812 have received a full refund along with an apology and two complimentary roundtrip passes on Southwest for future flights.

More on the cancelations from

Update 04/03/2011: A scary report from Reuters. An airline I actually like will be the airline I will avoid if they can’t keep their aircraft from falling apart.

National safety inspectors have found evidence of “widespread cracking” and fatigue on the fuselage of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 that made an emergency landing in Arizona with a hole in the cabin, a government official said on Sunday.

“Was the aircraft well maintained and should it have been maintained better? That is exactly why we are here, to look at why this problem occurred,” National Transportation Safety Board Member Robert Sumwalt said at a press conference broadcast from Yuma, Arizona, via Internet streaming.

2 Replies to “Southwest Flight 812: Plane's Roof Comes Off”

  1. When the NTSB report on this incident finally comes out, it will say that Southwest has had some lapses in maintenance, those were not the cause of this incident and the inspection cycle of Boeing 737s needs to be updated to reflect this new failure mode.

    Where is the “Southwest Pilots Avert Tragedy and Safely Land Plane After Unexpected Mechanical Failure” headline? The system worked as is should, yet in the coming days the media will be looking for a villain (because that is a whole lot easier than admitting the truth: sometimes bad things happen to good people).

    1. I will agree that the pilots did an good job with landing the plane and perhaps deserve the same attention as Capt. Sullenberger of US Airways Flight 1549.

      However I’m not ready to let Southwest get away with “these things happen” until I know more. I have serious concerns about the airline industry as a whole taking shortcuts with maintenance.

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