Friday, 3 April 2015

Another Fine for Southwest Airlines.

American's behemoth budget air carrier Southwest Airlines is facing another fine from the Federal Aviation Administration because of safety issues; for the second time in twelve months. 
The first case warranted a penalty of $265,800 and revolved around an aircraft that lost cabin pressure operating a flight from Boston to St. Louis in May 2013. The FAA alleges that mechanics for the airline failed to do a mandatory inspection for damage and to ensure the depleted oxygen bottles were replaced after the flight landed. Despite this failure, the FAA claims Southwest operated the aircraft on a further 123 flights before completing the inspection on June 3.
“Additionally, the airline allegedly operated the aircraft on May 14 and 15 flights with two of the four portable oxygen units un-serviceable,” the FAA claims. “A minimum of three were required under the conditions of Southwest’s Minimum Equipment List (MEL).”

In the second case, the FAA alleges that mechanics improperly deferred repairs and failed to log issues regarding air leaking from an air conditioning unit on one of an AirTran Airways aircraft. A pilot filed a report that he had seen ice and water coming from the plane’s galley vent.
The FAA say that the aircraft was kept in service while maintenance technicians replaced several components in an attempt to correct the issue. Yet none of those acts followed the FAA-approved maintenance procedures.
Southwest have a different view of the situation - “These items were fully resolved some time ago and are not currently an issue for aircraft being operated by Southwest Airlines. We are committed to continuous enhancements to our internal maintenance procedures, with a focus on Safety in all aspects of our operations. We make every effort to ensure that our fleet is maintained in accordance with applicable regulations and is aligned with best practices in the industry.”
This is just the latest in a series of safety worries and concerns over Southwest's aircraft maintenance procedures. The budget carrier had to cancel dozens of flights in February after learning that one-fifth of its entire fleet was overdue for necessary maintenance checks. In all, the airline had to ground 128 planes pending inspection. Yet a dodgy backroom deal with the FAA allowed the aircraft to continue to fly. Although a number of its own pilots refused to fly n some of the aircraft that were overdue servicing. 

Southwest are still fighting a $12 million fine related to improper repairs going back as far as 2006. The FAA found three separate incidents in which Southwest and its hired contractor improperly repaired aircraft, so far Southwest have refused to pay the fine causing the U.S government to launch legal proceedings against the airline. 

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