FlightAware Discussions

Southwest Flight problems

Local news is covering an in flight explosive decompression on Southwest flight from Phoenix to Sacramento. Plane on ground in Yuma.

Additional Information
Southwest flight 812.
news10.net/news/local/articl … cy-landing

flightaware.com/live/flight/SWA8 … /KPHX/KNYL

Replacement aircraft: flightaware.com/live/flight/SWA8 … /KPHX/KNYL

They found a hole on top of the plane
Southwest’s blog: blogsouthwest.com/news/south … flight-812

Aircraft: N632SW
Picture in better times

High cycle Hull, at lease it wasn’t like the Hawaiian airlines incident

The media has been making a big deal about these old 737-300’s and Southwest is the only US carrier still operating them. This particular plane has been in service for 14 years. Hardly old!

I hadn’t realized that the -300 was operated only by SWA in the USA. The news report I heard today on the radio was wrong - it said the 737-300 was operated mainly by Southwest and Alaska in the USA.

Alaska operates 400, 700, 800 & 900 series.

Us Airways still operates a handful of -300s. United was still operating some a couple of years ago, but it seems they don’t anymore.

The only current large 737-300 operators in the US are Southwest and US Airways.

Vision Airlines also has a few.

Continental retired their last one last year and United retired their last in 2009.

that airframe had 40,000 cycles on it- that’s a sh*t load of stress on the pressure hull over a 14 year period.

An average of over 7.8 cycles per day!!!

But 20 kcycles short of when Boeing expected cracks.

Given the 20-minute turnaround they do, I could see that number of cycles.

The AD that should be coming out today should be pretty interesting.


Mark when you first posted this I was going to respond with a rant on how even though I know the guys at Boeing are pretty much rocket scientist… But I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how they come up with a number like 60k cycles.
There have to be other mitigating factors that can contribute to the decay and eventual cracking of the hull.

of Times the Hull has been stripped and painted.

of hard landing

There have to be other things that can contribute to cracking, other then my short list.

BUT Boeing has said, OOPS we might have screwed up… :open_mouth:


FAA issues AD: tinyurl.com/3w95c6v

Boeing is obviously trying to rectify this, as per the AD, but this brings up a question for SWA in particular.

Granted, it will comply with the AD, but how far should they go with it, and in retaining their -300s? They converted a lot (if not all) of their remaining -300 orders to -700s, ordered a few -800s, and are bringing in the -800s from the TRS merge. Should they keep trying to maintain these, or wash their hands clean of them when their -700s and -800s come in (read: garage sale on -300s)?


There are no remaining orders for the -300. According to data on the Boeing web page, they first -300 was delivered on 30 Nov 84 and the last one on 26 Sep 97. (The last -300 was ordered on 22 Dec 95.)

AirTran doesn’t have any -800 nor do they have any on order.

Southwest has been getting rid of the -300’s and -500’s for several years now.

This AD will also hasten the retirement of 737-400 and -500 aircraft as they will have to now go through the same inspections every 500 cycles over 30,000 as the -300’s.

CO operates -500’s, there is no current timetable for their retirement but it’s fairly imminent. Also, theirs are some of the newest and lowest cycle 737 classics in the world.

US Airways has a sizeable fleet of -400’s which they use on east coast flights. These could easily be replaced by Airbuses, however US feels that as of right now, the -400 is a suitable aircraft for high density short stage length flights (like CLT-Florida) where the primarily use them. US’s -400s are fairly old.

Alaska has 737-400’s (24 pax, 5 combi, and 1 Freighter). There is no ready substitute for the combi aircraft (although they’re probably pretty low-cycle) so they will have to soldier on.

Vision Airlines, Sky King, and Xtra Airways also operate small numbers of 737-400’s.