US planes can and will crash due to poor inspection regulations

On April 1, 2011, a Southwest Airline plane experience a rupture in the roof during a Phoenix-Sacramento flight on Friday that diverted to Yuma, AZ.The pilot made an emergency landing saving many lives and raising many questions. Only one flight attendant was injured, but it could have been much worse.

A hole of that size (1 by 5 feet) has the power to suck a passenger right from the plane, which is any acrophobia-ridden passenger’s worst nightmare. One begins to wonder – why wasn’t this prevented?

There are about 40,000 deaths a year due to automobiles, with planes at only 200 per year. This makes a fatal car accident about 1000 times more likely than a fatal air transport incident. What is neglected in this statistic is that you don’t fly every day so the numbers are warped and do nit really depict the true pictures. So yes they are safe but they could be much safer if there were more regulations on the type of inspections that need to be made.

Planes obviously accumulate some wear and tear. Speeding through the icy air at 600 miles an hour and constantly pressurizing and depressurizing the cabin can take a toll on a machine. That’s why there needs to be consistent inspections of aircrafts to insure passenger safety.

The ruptured roof was due to a “fatigue crack.” The fasteners that connected the aluminum shell of the plane and the internal metalwork together failed during the flight, causing the large hole. This particular plane had not received a replacement for the outer skin of the plane, which would have made the incident completely avoidable.

 A passenger said she heard a “gun-shot like sound” and found she could see the sky through the roof of the plane. The plane plunged from 36,000 feet to 19,000 feet within one minute, though the dive proved to be beneficial because several passengers and a flight attendant fainted due to lack of oxygen. A similar incident happened with a Baltimore plan in 2009. They were also forced to make an emergency landing.

Plane inspections are absolutely essential for a safe flight, but not all inspections are the same. Most are visual inspections, but some of these “fatigue cracks” are found underneath the surface, where only electromagnetic inspections can reveal the problem. After the incident, the FAA issued a mandatory inspection of all early Boeing 737 models. Though Southwest officials said that the plane had every necessary inspection, though they did not release the date of the inspection. The National Transportation Safety Board, Boeing, and the FAA all promised thorough investigations, and extra inspections, but not much more has been done to make a change. At this pint could this happen again? Of course it can, why? Well simply put that electromagnetic inspection that can reveal these problems still is not required so these situations can and will happen again. Aren’t you glad you don’t fly every day?