In May, the FAA issued regulations requiring far more detailed inspections of Boeing fuselages like the one that developed a hole Monday.
In May, just two months before a Southwest plane developed a hole in its fuselage during flight, the Federal Aviation Administration issued new regulations that required far more detailed inspections of Boeing 737 fuselages "for any chafing or crack in the fuselage skin."
The directive applied to the tail-fin area of the plane, just a few feet from where the football-sized hole developed on Monday during Southwest Flight 2294 from Nashville, Tenn., to Baltimore. The Boeing 737-300 was carrying 131 people and made an emergency landing in West Virginia with no injuries.
Federal investigators are now scouring the plane's maintenance records for a clue as to what caused the fuselage skin to peel away.
The plane, which went into service in 1994, had undergone regularly scheduled maintenance and inspections, and no problems were found, Southwest Airlines said Thursday. In addition, notes Southwest spokeswoman Marilee McInnis, "Boeing and the FAA have confirmed there are no regulations or service bulletins that call for skin inspections in that area."