Retiring airplanes earlier than expected

If an airline has a 20 year old aircraft and have sold it and leased it back and it develops a problem similar to tonight’s fuselage issue in West Virginia, can that airline turn that plane in early or would it be more prudent to repair it and put it back into service?

I’m not sure what you’re talking about selling it and leasing it back. Repairing a hole is cheaper than replacing a $40-50Million plane. They rebuilt the plane that crashed through the wall at Midway.

However, WN’s 733’s are slated for retirement and are on a retirement schedule.

If a 733 was scheduled to be retired soon, then the aircraft in question may be substituted for it.

However, if it were an aircraft that was not not scheduled for retirement, then it would almost certainly be repaired. An airline the size of WN likely repairs 50+ significant aircraft skin punctures every year (most of these are caused by accidents involving ground equipment).

Further…with aircraft it’s not so much the number of “years” in service that matters, as much as the number of flight hours and cycles (take-offs and landings) that attribute to fatiguing.

Ref: Aloha Airlines Flight 243! With 89,090 compression and decompression cycles experienced in the short hop flights during its life, that aircraft is the poster child for pressure vessel cycle fatigue.

And it emerged looking just fine…

The Midway plane was practically brand new and certainly worth repairing. I don’t know the TT for 387SW but it must be pretty high and the 300 series’ days with WN are numbered. If the hole is the only damage then it’s a relatively quick and inexpensive fix, but if there’s corrosion or more cracking they might not think it justified.

The incident airplane was reported to be only 15 years old, which even in SW’s operations would not be a high time/cycle airplane relatively speaking.