Not the time to go topless: Southwest Airlines 737 develops a hole in the roof

Southwest 2294 is a flight from Nashville, TN to Baltimore, MD and is a daily staple of the airline’s BWI hub. Last night it had to stop a bit early, landing in West Virginia due to the plane developing a hole in the ceiling.

Uhhhh…. I beg your pardon?

Yep, you read that right:

Travelers on the Boeing 737 aircraft could see through the 1-foot-by-1-foot hole that appeared during the flight Monday. The cabin lost pressure, but no one was injured on the Nashville-to-Baltimore flight with 126 passengers and five crew members on board.

Passenger Brian Cunningham told NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday that he had dozed off in his seat in mid-cabin when he was awakened by “the loudest roar I’d ever heard.”

He said the hole was above his seat. People stayed calm and put on the oxygen masks that dropped from the ceiling.

“After we landed in Charleston, the pilot came out and looked up through the hole, and everybody applauded, shook his hand, a couple of people gave him hugs,” Cunningham said.

Yeah, I’ll bet they did. A hole that big in the fuselage can easily start propagating and breach something critical, either to control or to the aircraft’s structure. It’s also big enough to exert some serious explosive decompression forces but it appears that the hole opened inside one of the baggage bins over the seats. At least, that’s what it looks like to me from the picture available at the Murfreesboro Post.

As always, the NTSB will need to investigate this to figure out how something like this happens. We can all be extremely happy and relieved that no one was injured in the incident. I’ll post more as I hear more.