Posted by Sade Williams
Southwest Airlines expects more flight cancellations this week as it continues inspections of Boeing 737 engines of the type involved in last week’s fatal incident.
The Dallas-based low cost carrier cancelled “about 40 flights” on Sunday and over a hundred Monday out of a schedule of 4,000 daily flights, as it works through the inspections of fan blades on older CFM56-7B engines.
Southwest said it was on track to inspect all fan blades on its Boeing 737-700 and -800 fleets within 30 days, but despite using spare aircraft during the day and doing inspections overnight, there will be further cancellations. It expects one to two percent of its flights to be affected each day. Two percent would mean around 80 daily cancellations.
The airline said the cancellations were because of its “voluntary, accelerated” engine fan blade inspection plan, not because of the FAA’s Friday emergency airworthiness directive to inspect older CFM56-7B engines.
The US FAA and European EASA safety regulators issued emergency airworthiness directives last Friday requiring operators to inspect fan blades on older CFM56-7B engines within 20 days. Engines with over 30,000 total cycles from new must complete the inspections.
There are 681 CFM engines subject to the emergency directives worldwide, and 352 in the US, the FAA said. Fan blades that fail the inspection must be replaced before flying again.
Southwest said passengers on affected flights would be notified of any changes to their travel plans.