Is it Still Safe to Fly Southwest Airlines?
By Jo Anne Way
Mar 10, 2008
Is it really safe to fly Southwest Airlines? The budget airline has a marvelous safety record but many are asking that after charges are being hurled at the Dallas based airlines that they put off safety inspections. The FAA has now proposed a $10.2-million fine for those alleged violations. The charge is that the airlines intentionally flew 46 jets without performing inspections for cracks in the fuselage.
Southwest had this answer. "The FAA penalty is related to one of many routine and redundant inspections on our aircraft fleet involving an extremely small area in one of the many overlapping inspections," Southwest said in a news release. "These inspections were designed to detect early signs of skin cracking.
"Southwest Airlines discovered the missed inspection area, disclosed it to the FAA, and promptly reinspected all potentially affected aircraft in March 2007. The FAA approved our actions and considered the matter closed as of April 2007." Now this will hit congress and all charges are already flying in.
According to the Associated Press, Rep. James Oberstar, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman and head of a congressional committee investigating the incident, said on Friday that the FAA should "clean house from top to bottom" and has gotten too cozy with the airlines it's supposed to maintain oversight of." A whistleblower apparently brought the matter to attention and Oberstar believes that other airlines are likely guilty of the same delayed inspections.
If it is Southwest Airlines versus an attention-grabbing congressman I think I will stick with the airlines. In 37 years, Southwest Airlines has had only two serious accidents and no passenger fatalities. One person on the ground was killed when a Southwest jet slid off a runway at Chicago Midway Airport in 2005.
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