Southwest 737-300s Inspected, No Problems Found

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Southwest Airlines says it's found no evidence of structural problems in the rest of its roughly 200 Boeing 737-300 aircraft after a football-sized hole appeared in the fuselage of one of the planes Monday. The hole occurred near the vertical stabilizer. Flight 2294 was on its way from Nashville to Baltimore at 34,000 feet when it depressurized and the oxygen masks deployed. The crew did an emergency descent and landed at Charleston, W. Va. at about 5:10 p.m. There were 126 passengers and five crew and no reported injuries.

Of course, the FAA and NTSB are all over the place in Charleston but, as usual, there is no speculation on the cause. "There is no responsible way to speculate as to a cause at this point," Southwest said in a statement released late Monday. Passengers said they heard a "loud pop" about 45 minutes into the flight, followed by the depressurization. Some lauded the actions of the flight crew. "We have a tremendous talent represented in the pilots and the flight crew," Pastor Alvin Kibble told WBAL-TV. "I think we need to value them far more than perhaps what we do. It's very easy for us to begin to take things for granted."