Only a handful of Southwest Airlines flights out of Bob Hope Airport have been cancelled since one of the airline’s planes ripped open mid-flight in route from Phoenix to Sacramento.
The airline voluntarily removed 79 of the 171 Boeing 737-300 aircraft in its fleet from service on Saturday to complete full inspections. The inspections resulted in eight cancelled flights from the Burbank airport. Boeing’s 737-700 model, a different version of the plane, is in primary use there.
As of Monday afternoon, Southwest had completed inspections of 70 airplanes and returned 67 of them to service, said Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Christi McNeil.
Three aircraft, none of which were in Burbank at the time, showed signs of subsurface cracks and will remain out of service until repaired, she said.
According to published reports, the cracks were similar to the one suspected of causing a three-foot hole to be torn in the roof of the passenger cabin of the aircraft used for Flight 812.
The flight was forced into an emergency landing at a military base in Yuma, Ariz. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the roof rupture.
Passengers out of Burbank have another reason to be thankful for the Southern California sun, because its warmth has helped lead to the use of the 737-700.
“The 737-700 has superior lift and performance on a hot day,” said airport spokesman Victor Gill. “Airlines are less likely to offload passengers and luggage in order to take off.”
That model is preferred over the 737-300 model that ripped apart during its flight, he added.
The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority may lose some revenue over the cancelled flights from landing fees from Southwest and parking fees from passengers, but its schedule was not unduly affected, said Gill.
“The number of passengers ebbs and flows every day,” he said on Monday. “But business seems to be going along as normal.”
Southwest officials said the airline expects to finish inspections of its 737-300 fleet by Tuesday evening.