Boeing workmanship blamed for 2011 tear in 737’s roof

SEATTLE — A National Transportation Safety Board report blames shoddy workmanship for a tear in the roof of a Southwest Airlines flight in 2011.

The Boeing 737-300 was en route from Phoenix to Sacramento, Calif., when a 5-foot-long gash opened in the fuselage. Air rushed in, oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling and a flight attendant fainted, breaking his nose, as the pilots made a rapid descent.

The Seattle Times reported that the NTSB released its findings about the incident Friday. They say that when the jet was assembled 15 years earlier, the rivet holes along the fuselage panel that tore away showed “extremely poor manufacturing technique.”

However, the report also suggests it was a one-time error by a mechanic. Boeing points out that subsequent inspections of other 737s found no similar damage.

It isn’t clear whether the work was done at initial fuselage assembly at Boeing’s plant in Wichita, Kan., or during final assembly in Renton.

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