Metal fatigue in certain skin sections of two Boeing 757 aircraft, including one that experienced rapid decompression at 31,000ft, has spurred the US FAA to issue a mandate for repetitive inspections of all 683 Boeing 757-200 and -300 aircraft in the US-registered fleet.

The decompression incident occurred on an American Airlines 757 en route from Miami to Boston on 26 October.

None of the 154 passengers and six crew members were injured when the 0.3m x 0.45m (12in x 18in) rip developed in the skin above and behind the passenger entry door on the left side of the fuselage. The aircraft had accumulated 22,450 cycles.

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Another unidentified 757, which had accumulated 24,631 cycles, was found to have a 27cm-long crack just above the lap joint stringer 4L, says the FAA.

The final airworthiness directive (AD), to be issued on 10 January, calls for operators to perform initial inspections on aircraft with more than 15,000 total flight cycles, and for repetitive inspections every 30 to 300 flight cycles thereafter based on whether operators chose one of three progressively detailed inspection methods.

"We consider this AD an interim action," the FAA notes. "An investigation is ongoing and no terminating action has been developed yet."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news