A Sacramento bound Southwest Airlines flight declared an in flight emergency on Friday when five feet of paneling ripped out of the 737's ceiling. Flight 812 made a rapid descent from its cruising altitude of 36,000 feet down to 11,000 feet and later landed safely at Yuma Marine Corps Air Station.
In the recent past, airlines have been caught being lax in their adherence to maintenance inspections. In 2008, the FAA levied a $7.5 million penalty against Southwest for its failure to do mandatory inspections for fuselage fatigue on some of its planes. Southwest wasn't the only airline. Barbara Peterson is the senior aviation correspondent for Conde Nast Traveller. She and former member of the National Transportation Safety Board and an independent transportation safety consultant John Goglia both argue that the Southwest accident was largely avoidable.