Boeing Faulted for Hole in American Airlines Plane

Manufacturing defect caused hole in 757, final report says

By Scott Gordon
|  Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011  |  Updated 11:08 PM CDT
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The NTSB says

Scott Gordon, NBCDFW.com

The NTSB says "incorrect manufacturing" caused a foot-long hole in the fuselage of an American Airlines 757 jet last year.

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Hole in AA Plane Forces Emergency Landing

An American Airlines flight on its way from Miami to Boston Tuesday night lost cabin pressure and was forced to make an emergency landing, later a hole was found above the door where passengers board the Boeing 757.
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A foot-long hole that ripped open on an American Airlines 757 jet last year over Miami was caused by "incorrect manufacturing," according to the government's final report released this week.

The hole ripped open 18 minutes after the plane took off from Miami International Airport last October, decompressing the cabin at 32,000 feet and forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing.

None of the 160 people on board were hurt.

The report, by the National Transportation Safety Board, faulted the plane's maker -- Boeing -- for making the aluminum skin on part of the fuselage a fraction of an inch too thin.

"We're talking thousandths of an inch," said Dallas aviation consultant Denny Kelly. "You're not talking 2 or 3 inches. You're talking something you couldn't see with the naked eye."

Boeing issued a statement on Wednesday, saying it is committed to the safety of its planes and cooperated with the investigation.

"Boeing has taken appropriate action to address potential skin cracking in the 757 upper forward fuselage," the company said. "Those inspections began last November. We continue to work with operators and the FAA so that safety continues at the highest levels."

Following the incident, similar planes were checked for fatigue and small cracks. Two other jets were found to have a similar problem.

"I would say in that particular area, that they checked that procedure in that area and fixed it and watched it very closely," Kelly said.

The NTSB said its investigation could not zero in on the exact cause of the manufacturing defect because Boeing didn't keep -- and wasn't required to keep - manufacturing records.

Beginning in April, the government began requiring manufacturers to keep detailed records for five years and, in some cases, 10 years.


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