Kreindler Retained By Passengers of Southwest Flight 812

Kreindler Partner Dan Rose comments on the Southwest Airlines Emergency Landing in Arizona.

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Dan Rose, a licensed commercial multi-engine airplane pilot and a partner at the Kreindler law firm, litigated the prior incident involving a hole in the fuselage of a Southwest Airlines ("SWA") 737 on July 13, 2009. In that case, a SWA 737 was climbing to cruise altitude at 35,000 feet when suddenly a 1 x 2 foot rupture of the fuselage skin occurred, causing an explosive decompression of the cabin which required an emergency decent. The Kreindler firm, and specifically Dan Rose, represented several families of that flight whose claims were resolved for confidential amounts. ( Click here to read story)

"After that incident, Boeing issued a Service Bulletin requiring operators to specifically inspect 737 fuselage skins to see if cracks were developing," says Mr. Rose. "The FAA subsequently issued an Airworthiness Directive, mandating the inspections under Federal law."

As more planes with fuselage cracks continue to surface since Friday's emergency landing of Southwest Flight 812, "either Southwest Airlines was not properly performing the inspections it was obligated to do, or the inspection procedures put out by Boeing after the similar 2009 incident were not satisfactory," says Mr. Rose. "There are only two possible scenarios, and neither is acceptable for the flying public."

Notably, only months before the July 2009 incident, SWA was fined $7.5M for failure to properly inspect its aircraft. Also of note, Boeing has issued revised inspection procedures after Friday's incident.

"SWA's model of flying its 737s on many relatively shorter flights puts much more stress on the fuselage of its aircraft. That is because for each flight the aircraft must climb up to cruising altitude and back down", says Mr. Rose. "This causes stress on the fuselage, as it has to maintain the higher pressure inside the cabin so passengers can breath, and then decompress as the aircraft descends. Because SWA does many shorter flights, the pressurization and depressurization of the fuselage occurs much more often and puts more stress on the aircraft. Boeing knows that SWA operates its planes this way and was on notice from at least the 2009 incident that it had an issue with its fuselage skin design and/or manufacture and, at a minimum, should have identified an inspection process that would prevent such a similar skin rupture from occurring again."

"When fuselage skin ruptures, the plane, pilots and passengers are in uncharted territory. The pilots are effectively "test pilots" and they are taking 150 passengers along for the ride. They are relying on other aspects of the Boeing design, which may have just failed, to ensure that the fuselage is not further compromised before the plane is able to safely land. Fortunately, this was not a more tragic situation," said Mr. Rose.