The use of numbers in the Southwest Airlines article by Star Tribune was necessary and thoroughly planned by the reporter, in order to explain the situation. The type of plane in a numerical value is referenced several times as well as the amount of planes inspected.
The inspection numbers are used comparatively to show the severity of the emergency and how rare of an occasion it is made out to be. The age of the planes, the dates of past inspections, and time frames are all used within the article and offer context for the purpose of the article.
Very simple math was done, if any, by the reporter for this specific piece. The story flowed smoothly and provided numbers that put the emergency into perspective for an audience. Southwest Airlines, Federal Aviation Administration, and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board all provided numbers in some way for the story.