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Southwest Running Normally At FLL, Delays Expected Elsewhere

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A view of Southwest airline jets  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A view of Southwest airline jets (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Flight operations are running normal for Southwest Airlines at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport but the same cannot be said for other parts of the country after cracks were detected in four jets, including one forced to make an emergency landing Friday, as the passenger cabin roof tore open.

According to Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport spokesman Allen Siegal, just 2 Southwest flights have been delayed or canceled since the weekend.

Siegal said Southwest flies mostly 737-700s out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Int’l Airport.

“The models that Southwest flies out of here are different than the models that experienced the problems with the fuselage,” said Siegal.

The planes that are being inspected are its Boeing 737-300s which are an older model than the 700s.

The plane that had the roof blown out was reportedly 15 years old and had made nearly 40,000 takeoffs and landings. None of the 118 people who were on board the plane Friday were hurt during the emergency landing.

“All of the sudden there was a horrific explosion and one of the panels from the plane dropped down,” said one passenger on board the plane that cracked open.

Inspectors say there are still about 30 Southwest Airlines jets that need to be checked for cracks like the ones that forced the emergency landing in Arizona Friday.

Southwest and federal officials say small, subsurface cracks are suspected of causing the fuselage failure and loss of cabin pressure. No one was seriously hurt.

Inspectors say they should be done checking the rest of Southwest’s Boeing 737-300s by Tuesday.

Nineteen other planes inspected using a special test showed no problems and will be returned to service. The remaining inspections mean flight cancelations will likely continue until the planes are back in the air. About 600 flights in all were canceled over the weekend after Southwest grounded 79 of its planes.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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