Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Southwest Airlines Responds To Preliminary Findings of Internal Investigation

Not applicable
The following statement was just issued regarding our preliminary investigations into allegations that Southwest Airlines violated FAA regulations in March 2007. SOUTHWEST AIRLINES RESPONDS TO PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF ITS INTERNAL INVESTIGATION

DALLAS--March 11, 2008--Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said today the airline is taking action on preliminary findings of its own internal investigation into allegations that it violated FAA regulations in March 2007.

Kelly has vowed to make any changes necessary to assure that the airline is in full compliance with FAA Airworthiness Directives and all of its own maintenance programs, policies, and procedures. 

"Upon learning last month of an investigation with respect to our handling of this inspection and an Airworthiness Directive, I immediately ordered an independent and comprehensive investigation by outside counsel," Kelly said.

Last week, we accelerated the internal investigation after Southwest received details from the FAA's letter of civil penalty. On March 10, Kelly was given preliminary findings from the internal investigation.

"I am concerned with some of our findings as to our controls over procedures within our maintenance airworthiness directive and regulatory compliance processes," Kelly said. "I have insisted that we have the appropriate maintenance organizational and governance structure in place to ensure that the right decisions are being made."

Based on those findings, Southwest has:

  • Placed three Employees on administrative leave. Those Employees are cooperating with the investigation.

  • Hired a respected outside consultant with proven experience to help review its maintenance program controls, especially Airworthiness Directive (AD) compliance.

  • Fully engaged with the FAA on its current audit of Southwest and committed to FAA leadership that it will investigate and address any deficiencies in its maintenance controls.

"These are important and necessary steps," Kelly said. "At the same time, we are mindful that during Southwest's 37-year proud history, we have safely transported the population of the United States-every man, woman, and child-four and a half times over. This is a fact. We have been a safe Company. I believe we are a safe Company. I am committed to making sure we become safer still."

 

 

74 Comments
Not applicable
Dear Ed K. The comments are timestamped when you hit the post button and that places the comments on our moderation queue. With all of these comments, do you think we would have time to try and mess with the timestamps, and I seriously question what effect that would have on the conversation if we did it. The only thing that happened here is that we approved the other Ed's post ahead of KW's post. Nothing more, nothing less. Brian
Not applicable
I don't know what disturbs me more, the fact that the airline has safety issues, or the fact that the airline has a blog. Blogs are the domain of the angsty teens, wannabe writers and the socially disaffected. I expect a large corporation with the fiduciary responsibility for the lives of their passengers to correspond with the public in a professional manner. Get your point across to the public through your paid experts who's credentials can be verified, and through your trained customer service department on a case by case basis. A blog forum filled with thinly veiled agendas, ad hominem attacks and persons of unknown veracity does nothing to help your public image. Yes, I'm fully aware of my hypocrisy in leaving my thoughts here in a blog instead of contacting customer service directly. Thank You, A wanna be business analyst
Not applicable
Ker-Thwap, Ker-Thwap, we have a blog for several reasons. It hasn't replaced our traditional communications channels like press releases and interviews, but the blog allows us to go to the public directly toi hold conversations like these. This blog has been active for two years, and it has allowed us to show the transparency of our Company, in a similar vein to the old television show, Airline. We have printed the good, the bad, the funny, and the ugly. Many major corporations other than those with a computer slant have corporate blogs now--Boeing, General Motors, and Delta Air Lines come to mind. Also most major news outlets now have blogs that allow two-way communications. Brian
Not applicable
Mr. Lusk, That seems like a nice safe answer, however I fail to see how a blog shows the transparency of a company. There can be no transparency in a forum in which the participants can't be identified. This only opens up a company to claims of forum tampering (see above.) My reaction on seeing a manager with such a fine title as yours respond within minutes of my post is rather dubious. I wonder if you are the manager of employees or whether you're a twenty year old recent public relations graduate who manages these blogs and nothing else. Then I proceed to wonder if your answer in defending these blogs is self serving momentum (to keep your only job duty) or is actually indicative of some thought out corporate policy. How quickly things become less transparent. A blog is not a professional forum no matter how many other major corporations have them. Had I learned of this new trend two years ago, I'd have begun mocking it earlier. It's apparently the new way to appease the "letter writers" by giving them a voice. Thank You Mike McKay - Retired Business Analyst (bored), Consumer, Cynic, and Thread Hijacker
Not applicable
Mike, oh how I wish I were twenty years old again. Next month marks my 32nd year in the airline industry (I am 55), and I have done just about everything you can in this industry from selling tickets, loading bags, operations, ramp tower, air cargo, provisioning, reservations. Up until recently, I did have a Team of Employees reporting to me in the Executive Office's Communication Group, but now, I pretty much work fulltime on this blog. Up until 2 1/2 years ago, I didn't know what a blog was, and honestly, was quite a sceptic. Yes, we don't always know the identity of those posting comments, but for the most part, I don't think folks abuse that. I invite you to click on the archives above and to the right and you will see that this blog is pretty versatile in the scope of the subjects it covers. I'd also ask you to check out these links from Flightglobal and the Dallas Morning News. Brian
Not applicable
To Mike, regarding this blog: As bad as all of of this "maintenence lapse issue" may look for Southwest, the Blog itself is merley an outlet for Employees, Customers and the "regular Joe" to talk about Southwest Airlines. And, although critical of the handling of this weeks melodrama concerning safety, I must applaud the fact that mine and countless others' criticisms (and compliments!) are treated equally on this blog. This supports my theory that there is no better corporate brander than Southwest Airlines (whether that is good or bad only history will decide...). This is a textbook case of "any publicity is good publicity"- if you beleive in that. The Blog takes full advantage of that theory and, if anything, has people talking about the Company. The Blog does not replace Customer Relations or the "normal flow" of complaints and how they are handled. On the contrary, many Customers DO come on this Blog to complain (many are sitting IN the airport as they type away), and they are almost always referred to or directed to the appropriate department to deal with thier specific issue. So, in light of all that has happened this week, kudos to the Blog Team.
Not applicable
TO JOHN who wrote: "I work for a company that has had 13 self disclosures this year." What company do you work for? If you do not want to say, what other airlines have had self-disclosures?
Not applicable
Mike, In Brian's defense, he IS a very young 55 and rarely acts his age... LOL Kim External Blog Boy, cautiously maintaining a safe aerial separation and three-year-gap from the aforementioned Mr. Lusk 🙂
Not applicable
The issue is clearly transparency. I praised y'all for sponsoring robust threads. It proves y'all are intelligent. It does not prove your interest in safety. It does not prove your intent. There really is no, single, way of proving intent. The only way is to be as fully transparent as humanly possible. This is shown over a series of releases. I previously asked about the maintenance logs. Why can't they be produced for full public viewing? If there is no "there" there, what is the problem? Failure to produce the logs necessarily casts doubt upon your actions before and after the disclosure that the FAA fined y'all. Why can't you, Brian, take some of the direct questions posted on your site to those with direct responsibility? I already know the answer....liability concerns. Well, my friend, too bad. If your story/answer is legitimate and tends to exonerate y'all, you need to shout it loud and proud with full authority. Show us the nitty gritty details. Do not be a gatekeeper and describe them for us. Others have mentioned that you have had your defenders in the media. One gentleman from Denver, MIchael Boyd, was steadfast in his defense of y'all. He acknowledged that he didn't have the specific data, but that your record is excellent. Why not make ALL the relevant data available so that he can declare with authority that Southwest has acted properly throughout? By your own accounts, you have declared that all remedial inspections have been performed. There is no longer any pressing imperative. Y'all can devote a ton of energy explaining all of this. The actual operational "crisis" has passed. I honestly don't know the full truth. No fair-minded outsider can possibly know. But it is on y'all, Brian, to show us your clean hands.
Not applicable
The blog is filtered to whatever the moderator wants. Under a different name, I wrote 2 posts that never appeared earlier on the revelation of how Southwest hand delivered a so-called "anonymous" complaint about one of the FAA inspector/whistleblowers to his FAA supervisor (who made the decision to let SWA continue to fly uninspected planes - allegedly since his best buddy and former co-worker was now working for SWA). Wink wink. BTW - still no employee response on that... But since then, they have been posting since I now make a screen print showing that it's in moderation status and ready to prove it on other blogs if SWA decides not to approve it. (Oh, none of the non-approved posts had insults or curse words to any SWA employees or other posters. Only clean language insults to SWA.) About Feith - Paid by SWA, and saying he is impartial is like saying Arthur Anderson was impartial in their accounting reviews of Enron.
Not applicable
Ed, our top Leaders read this blog either on their own online or through a weekly report that includes everything that is on the blog. So they will know your thoughts. Brian
Not applicable
Hi Chuck N, Yes, the blog is moderated, we make no bones about that. (As far as I can tell, we did not print one of your posts.) Are we filtering it to what we want? Take a look back through this thread and the others on this issue. If we were filtering, some of these comments would never have been published, especially the ones with you accuastations about how we are manipulating this. Despite your obvious feelings, how many other companies, much less another airline, do you think would be having this conversation? Brian
Not applicable
Brian Lusk: Dell has a great customer blog. Customers have stated what they want and got Windows XP back, Linux, etc. There are many more and hopefully you will do a little more research on these other sites: http://www.socialtext.net/bizblogs/index.cgi http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2006/tc20060214_402499.htm BTW, it was good to hear Gary Kelly apologize after his, and SWA employee's, initial attacks against the FAA and public concerns. The "Tylenol" case should have been a lesson from the very first moment of this entire episode.
Not applicable
Brian Lusk, I just noticed Delta has a blog, and in their blog they have links to other travel blogs including Southwest! Pretty cool of them to do that. Also, they have links to Air France, Marriott, etc. They even have a link to Boeing's blog, considering SWA uses Boeing planes, wouldn't that be a good link to include in SWA's blog?
Not applicable
Hey Chuck N Thanks for the heads up. We have a blogroll too, with links to Delta, Boeing and a ton of other sites related to the travel industry, but for some reason, its not displaying the links. I'll check on it and get them back up. It may be Monday though. Brian
Not applicable
The was a quote If you dont listen to the media you are uninformed. If you listen to the media you are misinformed. The media has a way of making new look worse to keep ratings up. SWA is still safer then most of the cars that the passengers are driving to and from the airport.
Not applicable
I flew Southwest last week and wondered of the 737 would soon become a convertible like the Hawaiian plane did when it's top peeled off. Overdramatic my behind! It takes just one oversight to cause an accident or crash. Don't tell me about overengineering, and the planes are overengineered to be safe. If that's the case, then why do we have any wrecks at all. Southwest was just lucky this time. The fact that Southwest is in bed with the FAA inspectors doesn't make me confident when I fly yours or anybody else's planes nowadays. You're all the same. You fire three people as window dressing, then it's business as usual. At least it's safer than driving.
Not applicable
Yo! Hypocrisy lives! I posted a link about this story from the New York Times on Southwest's Facebook page--and they BANNED MY ACCOUNT. They meaning SOUTHWEST, not Facebook. Jerks! I guess the public sentiment was overwhelming and Southwest just couldn't hide this dirty little secret any longer.
Not applicable
I for some reason do not understand why everyone is bashing SWA here... No matter what happens, it is a lose lose situation... Look at American, Grounded 200 flights which grew to over 300. Hmm.. Seems as this was in concerns to an AD inspection over site... Why are they not being slammed, or Quantas Air who had passenger O2 service with Nitrogen, which is a deadly mistake. 55 Airplanes were serviced... I mean like really, where is eveyone going here. Is it just that SWA is held more accountable than the rest, or is this somehow a statement for the outside designed to damage SWA. This thing is way out of hand. SWA Admittedly made a mistake and is working to fix it. Most other airlines have had much worse than that!
Not applicable
As a FAA Inspector preparing to leave the agency I have a unique view of the culture within our ranks. The issues here are complex. We have for years viewed the airlines as a "customer". Right or wrong, this relationship of collaboration has resulted in a difficult balancing act for us inspectors between regulatory compliance and the safety reporting system known as the Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program. The events surrounding Southwest are not isolated or unique but are systemic throughout the aviation industry. The challenge we're faced with is how do we move forward and prevent this from happening in the future. I would leave you with this thought. There are just over 3000 Aviation Safety Inspectors out there doing their very best to ensure aviation safety, please thank them.
Not applicable
How can Southwest say that they should not have had planes in the air and that passengers were not at risk in the same paragragh? I have made more than 30 flights with SWA. How many times was I not at risk????????????????
Not applicable
I think swa should at the least reimburse us all
Not applicable
Southwest is committing fraud with their new awards policy. They do not really offer ANY seats for the standard award but always have seats for the upgraded award. Instead of bait and switch, why don't they just tell their customers the amount of points needed for a ticket has doubled? Why? because then everyone would cancel their southwest credit cards and they would be out of business. Seems like what they are doing is illegal.
Not applicable
I am a dedicated SW customer. Lov the airline and the folks that fly with me on my dozens of trips I have taken. With every company there are cracks in there system. It is how the company handles these cracks is what is important. Identifying the problem, fixing the problem and then dealing with the problem so that it will not happen again is what is important. I believe Southwest has taken this situation by the horns and is doing what it should to see that it does not happen again! So, congrats to Southwest for looking out for their customers!