Southwest Jet That Had Hole Being Repaired

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File

The Southwest Airlines jetliner that had a fuselage rupture earlier this month is being repaired so that it can return to passenger service.

The plane has been patched and painted, meaning there is no sign of the 5-foot hole that opened in the plane's roof on April 1 just 18 minutes into a flight from Phoenix to Sacramento.

Company spokeswoman Brady King tells MSNBC that Boeing worked with Southwest to design a repair plan for the jet. The Boeing 737-300 touched down at Love Field in Dallas, where Southwest is based, and then took off again to a facility where more permanent repairs can be made.

According to aircraft tracking website Flight Aware, the plane's final destination is Greensboro, N.C., the site of a major private repair facility.

After the emergency, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered inspections of all older models of 737-300s, -400s and -500s with at least 30,000 takeoffs and landings, an order that affected about 10 percent of the 6,000 737s in service worldwide.

Amongst its fleet of 79 737-300s, Southwest found five others with the same kind of cracks believed to have caused the emergency earlier this month.

Flight 812 was nearing 35,000 feet when it experienced what is known as "explosive decompression," or a rip in the pressurized fuselage. Pilots declared an emergency and rapidly descended to 10,000 feet, where oxygen isn't required.

According to the report by MSNBC, the plane has yet to reach altitudes above 10,000 feet.

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