The FAA wants airlines to conduct more thorough inspections of some 737 commercial jets to spot cracks in the plane's fuselage.

In a series of preliminary rules published this week, the air safety agency signaled that it wants the stepped-up inspections of more than 1,600 737s currently in service.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the FAA actions Wednesday, noting the moves were prompted by concerns that undetected fuselage or bulkhead cracks -- potentially affecting all 737 versions -- could result in hazardous rapid decompressions.

The FAA has been scrutinizing the popular 737 since a 2009 incident in which a Southwest Airlines plane developed a hole in its fuselage mid-flight, resulting in sudden depressurization of the passenger cabin. The pilots conducted an emergency landing; no one was injured. A similar incident happened in 2011 in Arizona.

According to the Wall Street Journal story, a Boeing spokesman said the company voluntarily made design changes to certain upper fuselage sections in 2011. The company also said stepped-up efforts to look for potential cracks in those areas won't kick in for about two years, based on the FAA's proposal and the average age of the current 737 fleet.

The FAA's proposed inspection mandates are outlined in documents published Sept. 18 and 19 in the Federal Register. One of the notices is published below. The rest can be accessed here.

Past KING 5 coverage:

737 fuselage tear a surprise for Boeing

FAA order for 737 inspections for cracks expected

Problem detected in rivet holes on some 737s


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