New Southwest Mechanical Problem Turns Back Oakland Flight

OAKLAND (CBS SF) – All 103 passengers aboard a Southwest Airlines flight that was grounded at Oakland International Airport Tuesday morning arrived in Denver on a replacement plane Tuesday afternoon, a company spokesman said.

Passengers departed between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. from Oakland and arrived at Denver International Airport at about noon, within two and a half hours of the original arrival time, spokesman Chris Mainz said.

Flight No. 565, which departed from Oakland, had to turn around and land in Oakland around 7:30 a.m. because of a flap problem, Mainz said. Shortly after take-off, the plane’s flap indicator light came on, he said.

Mainz said the illumination of the light was similar to a car’s check engine light turning on while driving.

“The plane just needed a sensor replaced,” Mainz said.

Passengers, he said, were very understanding about the two and a half hour delay.

Because the incident was minor, the plane did not make an emergency landing, and a yellow alert was issued, Oakland International Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said.

The yellow alert means fire trucks wait on the runway for the aircraft to land, she said, and the fire trucks follow behind the plane as it lands in order to verify the safety of the landing.

After a secure landing, normal airport operations resumed, she said.

“I hope Southwest is able to get back on track. I hope they can get airplanes back in service and get customers to their destinations on time,” Barnes said.

The incident comes after two other Southwest incidents in the last few days. A Southwest flight from Oakland to San Diego was diverted to Los Angeles Sunday because of a burning electrical smell in the cabin. On Friday, a hole opened up in the fuselage of a Phoenix-to-Sacramento flight, prompting an emergency landing in Yuma, Arizona.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

  • CMV

    southwest is concerned with keeping the company alive, they are not concerned with safety or us, just profit.

    • Jim

      that’s why they voluntarily grounded a subset of the fleet at a cost of millions of dollars. Southwest is one of the few who actually care about safety. Get your facts straight before accusing companies of corporate greed.

  • Carlos Pereyra

    Jim, here’s a story from the NY Times in March of 2008 when Southwest was found guilty of failing to follow FAA instructions to check for cracks in 737 airframes.

    WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration proposed a record penalty of $10.2 million against Southwest Airlines on Thursday, saying the carrier had continued to fly 46 Boeing 737s that it said it had grounded because they had not been properly inspected for fuselage cracks.

    At least one F.A.A. employee was aware of the airline’s misrepresentation, and told the airline it could keep flying the planes but that it should inspect them as soon as possible, an agency spokeswoman said. A supervisor at the F.A.A. who was aware of the arrangement has been removed from that job, said the spokeswoman, Diane Spitalieri.

    The inspector general of the Transportation Department is investigating the F.A.A.’s handling of the incident, which occurred over several days last March, at the request of the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

    Four of the planes had four-inch-long cracks, requiring repairs, said Ms. Spitalieri, although no deaths or injuries resulted.

    “They knowingly flew those aircraft,” Ms. Spitalieri said. “They knew they shouldn’t be.”

    A spokeswoman for the airline, Beth Harbin, said six of the planes had “the start of small cracking.”

  • Rico

    Southwest outsources all there overhauls to central america. Overhauls are accomplished every few years, and they should have noticed all those cracks during there inspection, due to an overhaul was accomplished in march of 2010.

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