Southwest Airlines Fined $10.2 Million
According to the head of a congressional committee investigating airline safety inspections, Southwest Airlines has flown at least 117 aircraft past mandatory inspection deadlines because of lax enforcement by the FAA. These 117 planes flew at least 1,457 flights. Forty-seven of the Southwest Airlines aircraft were overdue for fuselage inspections and 70 were overdue for mandatory inspections of critical rudder control systems.
Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, recently said in a Capitol Hill news conference, “Complacency has likely set in to the highest levels of FAA management,” and he believes the FAA should “clean house from top to bottom.” He said, “They need to take corrective action internally. They need to hire new inspectors. They need to give them a safety mission. They need to install a new safety compliance attitude among their inspection work force.”
Oberstar believes that similar violations may have also occurred involving other airlines, but that those who have evidence of these violations are afraid to come forward.
Southwest has never had a crash-related fatality aboard one of its planes. However, in 2005 a boy was killed when his family's car was struck by a Southwest jet that overran a runway during a snowstorm at Chicago's Midway Airport. According to federal investigators, the 2005 accident was due to pilot error.
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