Southwest jet bound for BWI makes emergency landing
A Southwest Airlines jet headed to Baltimore from Nashville was forced to make an emergency landing Monday evening in West Virginia after a football-sized hole opened in the fuselage causing the cabin to lose pressure.
The incident led Southwest to order an overnight inspection of its entire fleet of Boeing 737-300s. Flight 2294 made a safe landing at Yeager Airport in Charleston, W. Va. There were no injuries among the 126 passengers and five crew members, a Southwest spokeswoman said.
The plane departed Nashville at 4:05 p.m. and was about 30 minutes into the flight when the cabin depressurized, activating oxygen masks throughout the aircraft. According to passenger and crew reports, a hole was seen about mid-cabin in the top of the plane.
"We heard a loud pop, and one of the panels [on the ceiling] was sucked up tight against the ceiling. You could definitely tell there was a hole there," passenger Steve Hall of Murfreesboro, Tenn., told the Charleston Gazette. Hall said passengers put on the oxygen masks and the flight continued for about 20 or 30 minutes before landing at Yeager, a regional airport.
The NTSB is investigating the cause of the incident. Southwest said it is sending maintenance personnel to Charleston to assess the aircraft. In addition, out of "an abundance of caution," the airline ordered a review of its planes overnight. The review may cause some delays in the airline's scheduled flights Tuesday.
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