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Monday
Apr042011

Three More Southwest Planes Found with Cracks

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Three additional Southwest Airlines planes, not including the one that made an emergency landing last week, were found to have cracks on them, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Southwest said earlier Sunday that two other planes were found to have subsurface cracks, similar to those that grounded a Boeing 737 Friday after the roof of the aircraft tore open in mid-flight.  The airline later confirmed that another plane was found with cracks.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled as Southwest continues inspecting the rest of its Boeing 737-300 fleet.  So far, 19 planes have been cleared to return to service after passing inspection.  The airline expects to complete its inspections by late Tuesday.

Since Friday's incident, the NTSB has been investigating the tear to determine what caused the ceiling to rip open.

Board member Robert Sumwalt said, "It was not known in the industry that this was an area on airplanes of this number of cycles that those lap joints should be inspected."

Sumwalt added that the section of the plane that developed a hole in mid-flight will be shipped to the NTSB material lab in Washington, D.C. for further inspection Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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