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Southwest wants more time for Boeing 717 fatigue checks


It could take three more months to inspect and repair the Boeing 717s in Southwest’s fleet flying AirTran’s colors, since Boeing doesn’t have the parts on hand to fix the fuselage fatigue cracks, the airline said in a filing with the FAA. The cracks, found on two planes so far, are similar to cracks that have been found on some MD-80s in the past and are the result of airframe stress from repeated pressurization cycles. Southwest flies 88 of the Boeing 717s in use and plans to phase them out in the next few years, leasing some of them to Delta. If the FAA doesn’t agree to the 90-day extension for inspecting the fleet and repairing cracks, the airline could be forced to ground its 717s, which it says would have a large impact on its operations. The repair kits cost almost $100,000 per airplane, though the inspections themselves are much less expensive. Boeing has said it plans to have more kits in stock in the coming months.