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After an alarming gash appeared in the fuselage of a Southwest Airlines plane while it was in flight last Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration wisely elected to call for a large-scale inspection of Boeing 737s with an eye toward finding similar wear and tear.

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Two major commercial airlines -- United and Continental -- announced on Monday that they are merging to form the world's biggest air carrier, which is to be called (drum roll) United Airlines But in a super-creative twist, the newly rebranded fleet will (continued).

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Many grounded travelers and some airline industry officials disagreed with the halting of air travel across much of Europe last weekend due to the ashy work of Iceland's now-infamous Eyjafjallajokull volcano, and now it's looking like some flights will be gearing up for takeoff on Tuesday.

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An Ethiopian Airlines plane carrying 90 passengers and crew crashed off the coast of Lebanon on Monday. The aircraft, which took off in a severe storm, was seen on fire before it went down. The cause of the crash is officially unknown, but Lebanese officials discounted the possibility of sabotage.

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As if his plan for global domination weren't enough, Virgin Group honcho Richard Branson is taking to space with his new commercial spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, which will grant six paying customers at a time the experience of weightlessness for six minutes.

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So now we know that pilots responsible for the safety of about a quarter of the flying public rest up for duty by catching a few winks in an airport lounge, or sleeping in idle aircraft or aboard a cross-country flight from their hometowns to their airport home base.

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As airlines around the globe struggle to navigate through tough times for the industry, Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. have come up with their own possible solution. By Tuesday, the two companies had reached an agreement to join forces and create Delta, the world's biggest airline.

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