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The Nation

April 9, 2011

Boeing 737s around the world face new scrutiny

(Continued)

PHOENIX —

The Aloha incident triggered a decades-long effort to prevent similar stress-related failures that came to a conclusion in January when new FAA regulations went into effect mandating closer inspections.

On Thursday, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt ordered a review of the new safety regulation, saying the agency needed to find out why the cracks in the latest incident were not detected.

Independent aviation consultants were also worried by the failure.

"The one thing we have to be worried about this is that we were surprised by that crack," said Hans J. Weber, president of San Diego-based aviation consulting firm TECOP International, who worked extensively on the aging aircraft program. "After all that work, that we again have an aging aircraft surprise, that bothers me."

It remains important to remember, Harteveldt said, that all airplanes have problems, and have ever since modern jet transportation changed travel in the mid-1950s.

"To Southwest's credit, when that skin ruptured on that plane a week ago or so, that pilot got that plane down from 34,000 to 10,000 feet or so in (four) minutes. No one was severely hurt, no one died, and I think that is an important point to keep in mind," Harteveldt said. "I think people will view this as a hiccup, I don't believe that it will have a long-term effect on the 737."

___

Associated Press Writer Scott Mayerowitz contributed to this report from New York.

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