- - Tuesday, April 5, 2011

AIRLINES

Cracks found in more Southwest planes

DALLAS | Southwest Airlines Co. said Tuesday it finished inspecting 79 older planes and found that five of them have cracks in the aluminum skin.

That’s two more than the airline found by Monday afternoon.

Boeing said Tuesday it is directing Southwest and other airlines that own certain older 737s to conduct electromagnetic inspections of a portion of the roof once the planes have made a certain number of trips.

A Boeing 737-300 sprung a hole in the roof during a Southwest flight on Friday, forcing an emergency landing. In response, Southwest grounded 79 planes of the same model over the weekend.

Boeing project engineer Paul Richter said Southwest will have to replace an 18-inch section of overlapping aluminum panel called a lap joint on the planes with cracks in the skin. Southwest said the five planes with “minor subsurface cracking” will remain grounded until they can be repaired.

The plane that ripped open 34,000 feet above Arizona will face “obviously a much larger repair,” Mr. Richter said.

FEDERAL RESERVE

Specter of boosting interest rates raised

Federal Reserve officials raised concerns last month that a big jump in energy prices could weaken the economy and unleash inflation, prompting some to suggest the possibility of tightening credit this year.

Such a move usually involves boosting interest rates, although the minutes from the Fed’s March 15 closed-door meeting did not specify that. The minutes, which were released Tuesday, also did not note which members raised the prospect of a change in policy, or how many.

It simply noted that a “few members” raised that point. Other Fed members said the Fed might need to keep holding interest rates at record low levels beyond this year.

Meanwhile, investors dumped Treasurys after the minutes from that meeting were released.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note fell 53 cents per $100 invested in late trading. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction, rose to 3.49 percent from 3.43 percent late Monday.

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