Travel: Cracking Down

The FAA orders overhauls to make aging 737s safer

When the seats shudder and the wings flutter and the engines crescendo in what sounds like a last and mighty effort to lift off, what traveler has not wondered nervously whether the plane should be retired? America's aging fleet of passenger jets became a national concern last April when a 19-year-old Aloha Airlines 737 ripped apart in midair. Since then, cracks have been found in the fuselage of some of the other 429 Boeing 737-100s and 737-200s still flying in the U.S., giving rise to fears that regular inspections are not enough to ensure safe flights.

Last week the Federal Aviation...

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