Video: Southwest inspects jets, cancels flights

updated 4/4/2011 12:13:34 PM ET 2011-04-04T16:13:34

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-300 carrying 142 people diverted to Los Angeles because of a burning electrical smell in the passenger cabin, two days after another Southwest airplane of the same model made an emergency landing in Arizona after a hole was torn in the fuselage ceiling, officials said.

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Sunday evening's flight was en route from Oakland, Calif., to San Diego when the pilot made an unscheduled landing at Los Angeles International Airport about 8 p.m. PDT after reporting a mechanical problem, airport spokesman Harold Johnson said.

The passengers continued to San Diego without further incident, arriving about 10 p.m. PDT, Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger told The Associated Press. No one was injured.

"They swapped aircraft and went on to their destination," she said.

Southwest spokesperson Ashley Dillon told NBC News on Monday that the cause of the smell of smoke on the flight was due to an overheated fan.

"It's the fan above your seat that can overheat and cause a foul odor in the cabin," Dillon said.

Eichinger stressed that the problem "was completely unrelated to the issue in Arizona."

Story: FAA to require new safety inspections on Boeing 737s

Like the Arizona plane, Sunday's aircraft was also a Boeing 737-300. But Eichinger said it wasn't among the 79 planes Boeing grounded for inspections following Friday's emergency landing. She said the inspections weren't required for the aircraft because it was manufactured differently, but she didn't elaborate.

On Friday, a 5-foot-long hole tore open in the passenger cabin roof area of a Southwest 737-300 shortly after it left Phoenix for Sacramento, Calif.

None of the 118 people aboard was seriously hurt as the plane descended from 34,400 feet to a military base in Yuma, 150 miles southwest of Phoenix.

Since then Southwest ordered the groundings and has begun the inspections.

Officials reported Sunday that three more of the planes have small, subsurface cracks that are similar to the cracks suspected of playing a role in the Friday's fuselage tear.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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