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Southwest Airlines Fined $10.2 Million

Did you know that the FAA has allowed Southwest Airlines to fly some of its aircraft in violation of federal aviation regulations?  The FAA is seeking a $10.2 million fine against Southwest Airlines for failing to inspect older planes for cracks and then flying them before inspections were done. The FAA says that Southwest operated nearly 60,000 flights in 2006 and 2007 using 46 planes that had missed inspections for possible fatigue-related cracking on the fuselage areas. Southwest says it has complied with regulators’ requests and would contest any penalty.

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.

If you or someone in your family has been killed or injured due to an airline accident, please contact us. We can help. Call us for a free initial consultation. Call toll free at 800-862-1260.
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