09 March 2008

FAA fines Southwest $10.2 Million for Safety Violations

I am a huge fan of the low cost model it is what is saving the airline business model in general. Airlines became too complicated. On a recent trip to Europe I flew on 3 legacy carriers (Delta, BA and Lufthansa) – 2 LCCs (Easyjet and Ryanair) and one regional airline (VLM now part of Air France). The LCCs have done a great job of changing how things are done but relentlessly asking the question WHY DO I NEED THIS?

However clearly Southwest made that not just a question of the above the wing activity but also in some maintenance by failing to inspect some 46 aircraft when they were due. That is a no-no. Full stop period or what ever you want to say. This is bad for everyone. There is never any issue about below the wing safety. Shame on WN for this. Irrespective of if you do not like the FAA process or procedures - that is NO EXCUSE for this failure. Since this occurred from March 2007 when WN themselves reported the issue to the FAA - then also shame too on the FAA for not forcing the issue earlier and actually enforcing the rules by grounding some or all of the affected aircraft, 6 of which were ultimately found to have real cracks.

This is bad for everyone. I actually hope that the FAA is able to levy the fine in final judgement and then use the money to hire more inspectors. It is a dark secret that there are not enough of them.



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