February 27, 2015 / 8:14 PM / 4 years ago

Southwest Airlines nears end of inspections that grounded 128 planes

A Southwest Airlines jet comes in to land at Lindbergh Field in San Diego, California February 25, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) - Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) said on Friday it has finished inspecting 115 of 128 planes that it briefly pulled out of service on Tuesday when it discovered maintenance checks were overdue, and it expects to complete the rest this weekend.

The Dallas-based carrier said the inspections, focused on the backup hydraulic systems of its Boeing Co (BA.N) 737-700 aircraft, have not resulted in additional repairs.

Southwest voluntarily removed the aircraft from service and disclosed the matter on Tuesday to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which then said it could operate the aircraft for a maximum five days while it completed the checks.

The FAA said on Friday it does not discuss details of ongoing investigations.

“While all oversight failures are unwelcome, this scale of maintenance-related failure is hardly unique,” aviation industry consultant Robert Mann said in an email, adding that the FAA’s response on Tuesday “suggests it was not a safety-critical issue.”

The checks resulted in about 80 Southwest flight cancellations on Tuesday and about 15 cancellations on Wednesday but no others since. The airline said winter weather caused additional cancellations this week.

Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in New York; editing by Matthew Lewis

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