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Southwest Airlines Responds To Preliminary Findings of Internal Investigation

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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
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Good work SWA.. meeting the problem head on. You'll still see me onboard!
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- I have been regularly flying SWA for 12 years, more that 50 round trips a year. - I regret to see SWA being in this situation. Some of the management needs to be fired too because they took their job for granted. - It can't be merely confined to just a few employees. So let us see some action where some people get fired & prison time. Sean
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I am truly disappointed and will not fly with SWA anymore! The company is still in denial of its wrong doing. Small cracks will turn into large, dangerous ones without prompt repairs. Stop lying and doing superficial change. It's time for real top-down reform.
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Ellen - You're being dramatic. Commercial Airplanes are purposefully over-engineered. Sean - I'd rather have the employees (and let us not forget that managers are still people and employees) who has gone through this and made the screwup, been publicly called on the carpet still in the seat. Why? There is no way they'll do it again.
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Here we go again... Lack of not understanding of how things work. Not saying that you will fly the airline again... LOL, Then you should never fly again. All of this is minor compared other "High Cost Carriers". This has happened MANY MANY times in the past... But I think this is a first for SWA, for for most, there is not one person who could tell you how many they have. I work for a company that has had 13 self disclosures this year. I do not understand the press jumping all of this. It is a NON-News Item. I feel really that this is more politcal that the FAA is trying to prove itself to Congress and who ever then next President will be. SWA self disclosed all of this, and got back into compliance as quickly as they could. They contacted both the FAA and Boeing. Boeing is the manurfacture of the airplane. They are the experts on it. This is a totally NON-ISSUE as all airlines have this type of BS. The difference here is that the Media got wind of it and wanted to make some money off of it. Good News does not sell.. Bad news does... The real victim here is SWA, the Real Victor is the News Media. As a General rule, what I see on CNN (Communist News Network), I pretty much dismiss... Just remember.. Every time that you go to their wesite to see an update on this article... They make money... How... Advertisements. If you watch a CNN Video, you see a comercial, if you see text. You see paid ads... It is all about the news networks making money, on a blown out of propotion issue, that should have never been in the news.
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Two comments: 1. To everybody on the Nuts about Southwest Blog team, thank you for allowing an open dialog here on the blog for people to voice their concerns. It truly speaks to the faith you have in Southwest to allow others to say that they are disappointed in the carrier. Well done, this is how a blog is supposed to work. 2. As a former intern in the maintenance area, I have seen first hand how dedicated Southwest mechanics are, and how carefully they check each and every plane that rolls into the hangar. I have always had, and will continue to have, 100% confidence in an aircraft that Southwest says is safe to fly. You'll see me on board another Southwest plane the next time I have a reason to fly, I'll always be a dedicated customer and a big fan.
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I have flown SWA almost exclusively for quite a number of years and, except for periodic harassment about my size, my experience has been most positive. However, the recent reports of maintenance discrepancies have been disconcerting. Low fares are a poor trade off for safety. A statement from the FAA or other independent source that all of the expressed concerns have been addressed would be appreciated by me and, I am sure, many other of your loyal customers...G.C. Rothman
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And the spin continues...3 suspended and not a single employee asks why they weren't suspended last year? Why is SWA only investigating now instead of last year? Anyone check out the recent reports of SWA and their FAA buddies falsifying reports? Or what about former FAA Supervisor Gawadzinski allowing his former colleague employed by SWA, Paul Comeau, to get away with not grounding the planes with the cracks immediately? As before, no SWA employee will answer, just say how safe everything is...
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I am gratefull to see Gary"s full message to employees posted on the blog! It's great to know that people are being held accountable for their actions, or lack thereof. As an employee of Southwest, I am disgraced that we didn't live up to your expectations, and missed the inspections! Given the oversight, I'm also glad that no incidents occurred because of our lack urgency. That's not to say anything positive about the FAA agents though either! They can ground a plane instantly, and they didn't! I am right there with the rest of you! I hope WE live up to your expectations in the future! This is an embarrassment to me personally, as well as to the 35,000 + employees and to our dedicated, returning customers. I hope you are forgiving!!! I'm sorry we have let you down, and caused you to consider other airlines. Knowing Southwest Airlines, rest assured this will never happen again! We are safe, we are friendly, and we will not compromise our jobs. I'm sorry that a few employees have strayed from their commitment to Southwest Airlines. Their motives and facts still have to be discovered, and I hope Southwest will become stronger and more diligent in providing a safe and secure travelling environment. Please wait to see what the full investigation reveals before counting Southwest out!!
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LOL.
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Let's see - there was the Kyla incident and it seemed like half the people in the country promised to never fly Southwest again. Then there was the boarding procedure change and yet another half of the country stated that they would never fly Southwest again. Then SWA made some adjustments to Rapid Rewards and guess what - yep, it seemed like half the country swore off of ever flying Southwest again. Oh - let's not forget early last year when the reservations window fell below 90 days. IIRC, about half the country publicly swore to never fly Southwest again. And just earlier this year SWA announced the low $25 fee for a third bag. I think only a third of the country self-banished themselves from flying Southwest. So since yet another half of the country has, yet again, sworn off of Southwest due to yet another non-issue, I'm really looking forward to my next flight. Me and the two other remaining SWA Customers should each be able to find good seats. For the record, WTBB has absolute and complete confidence in Southwest and their commitment to safety - it's much higher than any other airline's.
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I don't think safety has anything to do with low fares. I know any person who has worked in Southwest maintenance facility's will tell you that those MX technicians check everything thoroughly. So, something was missed. Southwest has admitted it and is taking actions to make it not happen again. I have supreme faith in Southwest and will continue to recommend this airline to anyone and also I will continue to fly Southwest for the 37+ years I know they will be open.
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I don't think there is ANYTHING over dramatic about hearing that the airline you have trusted your family's safety to has been fooling the public into believing that they have been in compliance regarding the working condition of their aircraft. After all, it is about the almighty dollar to them as it is to every airline. They just happen to GROSSLY breach the publicÃ
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There is no doubt that this is a serious matter. And there is also no doubt that Southwest is taking it seriously. BUT ... there is additionally no doubt that most of the posters here have no clue what they are talking about. Southwest inspects its planes constantly. ALL PLANES are inspected in some manner every seven days ... yes, even the ones being talked about in the news. And the "skins" of all those planes were checked in accordance with FAA regs and the AD in question, except that due to an error in documentation, a very small part of the skins (less than 1 percent) was inadvertently overlooked. There is no evidence that this documentation error was anything other than an honest mistake. Does this make everything right? Of course not. But the idea that Southwest's planes were, or are, inherently unsafe is nonsense. Because of this incident, Southwest is probably the safest airline you could possibly fly right now, and because Southwest learns from its mistakes ... unlike those airlines who have been through bankruptcy more than once ... it is likely Southwest will continue to be the safest airline you could possibly fly for the foreseeable future.
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In regards to Chuck N.'s, yet again, outrageous slandering of SWA: "Chuck N.: And the spin continuesÃ
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I don't know. I was disappointed in the boarding policy initially and expressed my concern, but this is different. Quite frankly, this scares me. Missing safety inspections? Aren't these scheduled for a reason? Surely they aren't just there for no reason... If this is the case, then how can it be good practice just to miss them? Grounding 41 planes? How did it come to this? This seems pretty drastic to me. If the safety inspections weren't important back when due, why ground all these planes now all of a sudden? If they WERE important then why weren't they done properly and on schedule? I don't know. I take my baby, my precious precious baby son onboard Southwest flights. These reports sadden me that Southwest may not be taking safety seriously. These reports scare me because everytime that door of the airplane closes I am putting my and my son's life in the hands of Southwest. Blowing off safety inspections? What else are they blowing off? I am disappointed and afraid.
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In response to Cheryl Clemons, and her nonsensical, ignorant 'class action' comment. You can't sue somebody for money over what might have happened. In fact neither you, your family, or anyone else was harmed because of this issue. It's so irritating hearing people with absolutely no aviation knowledge, including those in the news media blowing this whole thing out of proportion. Does anyone remember Valujet? Now there was a real lapse of safety that went to the core culture of the company.
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Cheryl Clemmons: I love your threats to sue. Everyone complains that corporations never do the right thing and when a corporation DOES do the right thing (disclose a mistake and take responsibility) then the media and the public are ready to jump all over them, string them up and run them out of business with lawsuits. Do you think that will make other airlines voluntarily disclose their mistakes? And believe me, they are making mistakes. Hopefully, they are as honest and resonsible as Southwest when it comes to disclosing and fixing their errors. Did you read the Dallas Morning News "story" Sunday on American Airline's "aging fleet". So who you gonna fly? Maybe people like you should just walk. If you put all the airlines out of business that's exactly where you are going to be: driving. This situation is similar to saying that the day after your car inspection sticker expired your car became a screaming metal deathtrap and you became a selfish, greedy beast because you continued to drive it knowing it was "out of compliance". These "greedy people" you talk about are human beings, fallible and imperfect. They do their best under circumstances you will never fully grasp. They have parents, wives, children and friends who love and trust them and don't like seeing them slandered by people who don't know them and don't know the situation. Those employees are working themselves sick even as we type. If only we could all be as perfect as you, Ms. Gannon. Get in your crappy car and drive yourself to your destination and see how "safe" you are on the nation's highways!
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I read the comments with a great sense of humor. People either think the aircraft will fall from the sky or are so tough they could fly through a meteor shower unharmed. One interesting question for those that continue to post messages that SWA cleaned up its act a year ago: Why did SWA ground planes last night?
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Katie, I take my precious self, my precious son and my precious husband on Southwest flights ALL THE TIME AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. Airlines have multiple layers of safety inspections that overlap so missing a mandated inspection doesn't mean that NO inspection was ever done, just that the one *mandated* by the FAA wasn't done and there's a consequence for that, a fine. But that doesn't mean that the airline doesn't have it's own, separate inspection program that covers the same territory. Again, it's like saying that because your car inspection sticker expired then automatically your brakes are bad, your tires are bald and your car is an inherent safety threat to everyone else on the road. Not true, though you do face a fine and penalty for not getting the inspection as required. But it doesn't mean your car is unsafe.
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I have been fuming for the past week, realizing the airline I so valued and dedicated my patronage to has grossly failed to protect my personal well being. I live in Northern California and fly almost weekly to Southern California. I dislike flying. It makes me nervous, but is necessary in my job. One level of reassurance, albeit one I find to now be false, was Southwest's appearance of strong adherence to safety standards. Southwest should be ashamed of themselves for risking my life, the lives of other passengers and their own personnel. SHAME ON YOU! I am hard pressed as to whether or not to continue using them as a carrier. Hopefully Southwest plans to demonstrate to their customers, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this matter will be addressed thoroughly, and that no expense will be spared in creating a program that guarantees safety -- not just lip service and luck.
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As with most FAA issues, this is not about safety but about paperwork and beaucracy. People blissfully unaware of the mountain of FAA regulation - that is to say, passengers - would be horrified to learn how much of pilots time and attention must be focused on regs, when they should be focused on operating the aircraft. Ditto with ground crew - SWA has GREAT crews, GREAT maintenance and GREAT aircraft. Paperwork errors do not a safety issue make.
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Anon- Why are you being snippy and TYPING IN ALL CAPS? I didn't say that I wasn't going to fly Southwest. I said I was disappointed that this happened. Adhering to mandatory inspections seems to me to be something that is pretty important and something that a responsible company with such stringent safety policies would be interested in taking care of.
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Would you, Paula, care to retract these words from your previous post: "We assure you that this issue never compromised the safety of our fleet. " As much as I would like to believe your CEO as to the commitment to safety, it seems to me an at least equal consideration is PR management. At this point, you have zero choice but to be proactive. If you aren't, and a whistle blower goes public about a negative finding internally, you know full well that you'll lose tens of millions. It is sad that your pax will now be made to more than they would have had your company acted more responsibly in the first place. I would be most interested in hearing how your company plans to eat the greater costs instead of passing them on to the most loyal clientele in the industry.
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This is in response to the post created by "ANON". Airplanes are not cars. You can't simply pull over to the side of the road if you have an issue at 35,000 feet. The stakes are much, much higher than driving on a highway. Why do you think the FAA intensely investigates air-related incidents. Southwest may in fact have their own inspection policy. However, there is a deliberate purpose for not having corporations, especially those with heightened responsibility for customer safety, self-policing. ANON, perhaps you're alouf to corporate America and its endless scandals. Why should we trust Southwest? Perhaps Southwest should have given passengers an opportunity to decide whether or not to fly on their planes by offering transparecny of their agregious failure to inspect according to Federal Government LAWS & REGULATIONS. ANON, perhaps you should get back to work at Jiffy Lube.
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To those who are saying that safety of flight was never compromised- What do you say to the fact that 40+ aircraft in Southwest's fleet have been grounded?
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how could you (southwest) deliberately put peoples lives in danger? seriously! i feel that your airline is honestly neglectful to the safety of its passengers and i intend to not fly with you unless being proven to, that you can and will be a safe airline.
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No mention here (Are you trying to keep this quiet?) of the fact that Southwest suddenly cancelled many flights today - a consequency of taking 48 planes out of service. Notably: No effort was made to contact customers in order to make arrangements. In my case - there was an earlier flight I could have taken. Since they didn't let me know until I arrived @ the airport .. I have spent much of my day waiting for another flight ... and will go home via BWI .. meaning I lose a full day of work. b) No offer of compensation was made. c) No acknowledgement of the inconvenience of this was made. This was a rare event in this business - as these cancellations were wholly due to Southwest's management decisions. Neither weather nor unanticipated techical malfunction - this whole event rests on the decusions the airline made at one point or another to either service (today) or not service (2007 and 2006) these planes. So I lose a day .. eat a yucky lunch .. and I'm expected to say 'thank you?' d) I'm an uncommonly avid fan of this company. I fly several times a month .. almost always on Southwest. Alas .. my conversation with the customer service reps on this matter have been infuriating .. due to the inability of these folks to take ownership of the root cause of today's problems: Southwest's decisionmaking. Finally ..addinginsult to injury .. I was told when getting my boarding pass (I am in the 'A' group as I travel so often) that no 'A' passes were available. When sitting @ the gate I watched the agent give one to another customer. When I asked her why one 'appeared' she told me that he had a business select ticket. Just spoke with him ... no he didn't. Why are WN employees lying today?
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I am a Southwest employee. A happy one. Does it bother me that SOMEBODY (or SOME PEOPLE) risked my life and those of the general population? It most certainly does. But an entire corporate culture should not be punished for two or three people's mistakes. Remember the Enron scandal? Every Enron employee was not responsible for the corruption there; but everyone suffered because of it. Likewise, Southwest is comprised of way more than the two or three who may have risked the lives of many. It is sad. It is wrong. But one (or three) bad apples don't spoil the whole bunch. Hopefully Southwest and the FAA can pluck and throw away the rotten ones instead of people like Cheryl Clemons wanting to uproot the entire tree and start a fire. Ma'am, we are human beings with families to help provide for and most of us would never knowingly lead any of our passengers anywhere unsafe; in fact, the Southwest culture of Warrior Spirit, Servant's Heart and FunLUVing attitude is the most warm one I have ever worked for. Except for those FEW that may have been reckless with EVERYONE'S lives (including their own as foolish as that may be), ours is a culture of love and caring, respect and responsibility! And to Keith: Why did SWA ground 41 planes last night? In the wake of the discovery (in the report Mr. Kelly received MARCH 10 - one day earlier) what did you want us to do? Keep 'em in the air? Duh!
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So, you appear to be more concerned with people wearing short skirts than the safety of your planes. You need to adjust your priorities Southwest.....
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Glad the problem is being taken care of now. I will continue to fly SWA along with millions of others! This is the USA and we have a choice of which airline to fly with...and when it's your time to go, it's your time to go! Your safety record speaks for itself. 'nuff said.
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From a PR standpoint, the company needs to get Herb Kelleher out in front of this issue and be the public face on this maintenance crisis. He has the publicÃ
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Della, I guess you don't wear seatbelts either? Probably don't carry life insurance; don't look both ways before crossing the street, etc. We're all entitled to our opinions, no matter our IQ. This is the USA. Ed
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I'm snippy because I hate seeing a good company trying to do the right thing getting summarily thrown under the bus by people who are already fearful flyers. My parents won't fly either but I promise you they are in far more danger driving on the roads of this nation than they would ever be in one of Southwest's planes. Remember, a 37-year spotless record. Ed, no a plane is not a car, by the analogy is similar. As the other poster stated, a paperwork error does not a safety issue make. If you are not involved in aviation you have no knowledge of what all this really means, only the media spin, "you are all going to die". You have no idea the mountain of paperwork aviation folk are forced to deal with, but that doesn't mean the planes were never inspected or that they were ever unsafe. Layers of inspection that overlap, believe me. Layer upon layer upon layer... I trust Southwest. They put their people and their families on these planes every day. Do they make mistakes, yeah, apparently. Do they deliberately sacrifice safety in the name of corporate profit? NEVER.
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[...] million dollars. Given that Southwest has been celebrated for their open communications via their blog, I was immediately interested to see whether or not they’d post a response or point of view [...]
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ANON, You've missed the point. The mountain of paperwork is par for the course. If they don't like paperwork, perhaps they are in the wrong business (I don't mean that literally, but that is the essence of what your comment represents). Scandal is not relegated merely to money, my friend. Scandal comes in all shapes and sizes. I haven't forgotten the 37 year safety record, which is reason for patronage. From your point of view, it would seem some complacency is ok, because they have so much paperwork and they've done such a good job. Quite frankly ANON, you're speculating on whether those aircraft were safe or not. There were actually incidents of structural integrity -- this is one of the main reasons for required inspection of 737-300s. Just so you're aware, I flew yesterday and the day before on Southwest. If I thought I was going to die, I probably wouldn't have flown. The issue isn't about feeling safe, it's about being safe! I know for a fact there are great people working for Southwest, the vast majority of people. Again, I give credit to the many dedicated, intelligent, customer-dedicated and safety minded employees of Southwest. I know they will do the right thing. Ed
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cheryl clemmons (the drama-queen)- In agreement with another blogger, it is so funny that people with no aviation knowledge run their mouths like they know what he or she is talking about. All their so-called facts are from the media who only love to show the negative on the situation. Southwest maint. record is untouched thoughout the industry. The mechanics are the best also .Wait the media doesn't tell u that after sept. 11th the faa required all cockpit doors to be replaced with a bulletproof kevlar door with a solenoid operated locking mechanism. Hey cheryl(the drama- queen), can u guess who complied first before any other airline did and complied before the date was up? yep u guessed it, SWA. Wait they won an award for that to from the faa. Also I can't believe that this is getting blown up out of context. Hey Ed K. - First of all your life was not in danger at all. If you heard Boeing said that there was no imediate danger to the flying public. God, i think i will call u Mr. dramatic. Do u know anything about aircraft and how they work or even fly? Lets remember that they are inspections ok. That does not mean that every one of the jets had cracks in them.
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The good doctor's post above answered one of my concerns - Southwest is going to make the pax pay for their malfeasance. No compensation for mechanical cancellations? Seriously? I have since wondered how senior management failed its division managers, particularly the maintenance division. What was it about the executive leadership that caused those responsible for the equipment to cut corners and to withold reports? These people just decided to be lazy and treacherous? My money says undue pressure was brought to bear and that communication was deliberately obfuscated. From where does a culture like this emanate? The CEO. You may be personally committed to the values so many espouse, Mr. Kelly, but you failed to impart this commitment to your people. The failure here is simply too great for you to remain in your position. If you really do walk the Southwest values, and not just talk them, you'll take ownership.
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The only reason swa "self reported" this issue was to try to save face by beating these whistleblowers to the punch. Its the whistleblowers we should be thanking for doing their job. It's an embarrassing shame that swa not only "missed" these inspections but also CONTINUED TO FLY THESE PLANES after the revelations. If i was a pilot or flight attendant for swa, i would be very upset and disgusted that my own employers didn't value and respect the importance of my life. So stop drinking the kool-aid and open your eyes!!!! Be truthfuly objective and you'll see the truth.
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"Again, I give credit to the many dedicated, intelligent, customer-dedicated and safety minded employees of Southwest. I know they will do the right thing." That's all I'm asking, really, is that the people involved be given the benefit of the doubt rather than have their integrity and ethics denigrated by people who don't know what they are talking about. Obviously mistakes have been made but they are being corrected and I firmly believe that safety was never, ever compromised. The people involved are working really hard and are heartsick over this. Southwest has a long standing history of of corporate responsibility so it just frustrates me to see some people hysterically conclude that suddenly they are all "bad" and deserve to go under. These are peoples lives and careers at stake; families with children! I just think that Southwest's reputation justifies giving them the benefit of the doubt until all of this shakes out. And for the record, the latest "lead" for the evening news locally (DFW area) was how "something out there is putting your and your family at risk every time you get in your car." Turns out it's poor road conditions - run for your life, right? I stand by my assertion that the media overplays the fear angle because it's a guaranteed ratings grabber.
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http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080307/laf070.html?.v=28 I strongly urge everyone to read this statement by former NTSB Investigator Gregory Feith. Some points that jumped out at me: ***"This Service Bulletin was based, in large part, on an inspection program developed by Southwest Airlines. The issuance of the AD was a continued effort to ensure that cracks in the fuselage skin on the Boeing 737 airplanes were identified and mitigated well before they could pose a safety of flight issue. " So apparently it was Southwest Airlines that originally brought the issue of fuselage cracks to the attention of the FAA and that it was discovered during their own maintenance programs. If not for Southwest the FAA would not have known cracking was an issue and the AD would not have been issued. Again, Southwest was ahead of the FAA in the matter of safety. ***"In addition, it is evident from the analysis and testing data developed by Boeing that cracks up to 6 inches in the fuselage skin do not compromise the structural integrity or pose a safety of flight issue. This is further supported by the design of the fuselage structure which incorporates "internal reinforcing doublers in the skin assembly" and "tearstraps," both of which are intended to provide strength, and slow or abate the growth rate of a crack under normal operating aerodynamic loads." I don't think any of the planes Southwest has reinspected have had cracks anywhere near this large but I admit to not having full information on that, feel free to correct me. I don't know if this will make anyone feel any better, but I'm kind of ticked that this statement has gotten no play in the media as far as I've heard. The statement was issued March 7 but I only found it by randomly checking other aviation related blogs.
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Feith is a consultant paid by Southwest Airlines. Boeing gets paid by Southwest. I seriously believe SWA employees don't understand the concept of "Conflict of Interest".
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Right, so now Gregory Feith is selling his reputation for a lousy consultant's fee. Get real. You want to believe what you want to believe.
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There is absolutely zero evidence that anyone was every put in any danger due to this issue. You people who like to sit around thinking of reasons to be afraid of things that are unlikely to kill you and reasons to sue for damages that never occurred, should bury your heads in the sand and stay home far away from the big scary world.
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As someone who frequently flies Southwest,all I can say is get your act together.Delays and cancelled flights are one thing, but safety has to come before profit.Don't you think?
New Arrival
Since my short post above (sorry about the typos - I was at the airport using my Treo to make the post) - I've been impressed with the number of comments. I would agree with the folks who suggest that the company is good - indeed better in many ways than most airlines. For me - Southwest has become nearly a business partner. I have felt that I can depend on Southwest in ways that I could not depend on any other airline. Until now. I have felt that I could depend on them to do the right thing - like the time that my two teenagers were stuck in Midway in a snowstorm overnight - and the staff found a way to feed them, get them cots to sleep on in a a safe place, and onto a flight home ASAP despite the fact that it was sold out. That was two years ago. Today - my business partner violated some guiding principles - and it's not about what happened (grounding the planes) its about how they did it. When they grounded the planes and canceled the flights - they had ample time to contact the passengers (phone, e-mail, etc) and take PROactive steps toward meeting the customers' expectations. The didn't do this - and that's the fatal flaw from which everything else has fallen today. To quote Jim Ruppel: (WN VP of Customer Relations) "If you always err on the side of the Customer, you will never get in trouble." The errors were all on the side of the airline. (http://www.southwest.com/swamedia/bios/jim_ruppel.html) BTW - Neither Jim nor Gary Kelly would take my call today. By waiting until the passengers found out - they chose the RE active path - rather than the PRO active one. Reschedule flights, parry requests for accommodation or explanation. Indeed - when I called customer service initially - the representative I spoke with would not acknowledge that the planes that were grounded had anything to do with the FAA "cracks" issue. She pretended that she didn't know that there were any planes grounded! Her supervisor (who returned my call 2 hrs later) refused to discuss compensation until I arrived at my final destination. Of course - my arrival time fell after the time that the Customer Relations office closes! Bottom line: had they contacted me as soon as they made the decision, and offered me some token compensation - I would have been frustrated but accepting. Now that I've been patronized, jerked around, lied to and insulted - I will require a lot more compensation. There is simply no argument that my business partner Southwest Airlines can make that holds water. If one of THEIR business partners made bad decisions that caused the airline to be unable to fly - (say a fuel company didn't maintain the brakes on the fuel trucks and had to take them out of service suddenly) - you know the Southwest attorneys would be lining up to make the case that the business partner caused loss of revenue. I'll reiterate what I said earlier: this was NOT an unexpected mechanical problem, or a weather delay - or even a staffing problem. Today's cancellations were caused by Southwest's bad decisions and nothing more. In such a case - I would argue that they ARE ethically (if not legally) responsible in some way for the lost revenue of their passengers. Let's see if they can make good on even a portion of their obligation.
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Wow, weÃ
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I am now a bit suspicious of this blog and its reviewers. For my previous blog time stamped "Posted by: Edward Klipphahn | March 12, 2008 at 4:04 pm", directly after that post, there was one from another blogger time stamped "Posted by: Ed | March 12, 2008 at 4:18 pm" (no relation to me). His comments were posted directly after mine. HOWEVER, there is now a blog, which was NOT there -- and is now there, time stamped as if it were directly after mine. Fruad! I smell something quite fishy around here. Look, if you need to get defensive and attack people such as myself, with incredibly legitimate concerns, go for it. It doesn't change the fact that Southwest is being fined $10,000,000.00 and being dragged through the mud it created. Yes K.W., feel free to hurl insults - "Mr. Dramatic". Your comment "that does not mean that every one of the jets had cracks in them". The idea of having inspections is to ENSURE there are no cracks! Because, apparently there are some and that means there's a possibility of them getting worse. If there's drama K.W., it is clearly Southwest's. You just simply can't argue with Southwest employees like K.W. They have the Warrior Spirit!
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I've never written a comment on a blog, and I've never written a letter (negative or positive) about how I felt treated or mistreated by a company. I just saw the Nightline segment about the Southwest SNAFU, and I immediately went to their website to find out who I could contact about it. I was surprised and delighted to find a blog link! Awesome...I can say what I want w/o doing so elequently. I can't fly Southwest anymore....so sad....I live in Hawaii, on Maui. Thank God they finally have a partner here now. I thought I could tell immediately when they partnered....there was an airline in HI w/ aloha spirit. And no, it wasn't "Aloha Airlines." Love ya, GO! Airlines. Way to make it fun flying inter-island. I don't know if, in fact, they partnered w/ GO!, but I feel like it's in the SouthWest spirit. They did, I hear, partner w/ ATA. Now that's a lot of work ahead of Southwest. I can't stand ATA. But that's what I end up flying out of HI, mostly. When I go to the mainland, and I have to book another flight somewhere (b/c my family is on the East Coast), I pray that it'll end up being a Southwest flight. I hope that it's the least expensive, b/c I know that's what I'll be looking for. I know if it's Southwest, I'll sit down in the chairs and let the donkeys stand in line to be the first on the plane....or the 10th or the 40th. I know that no matter where I get to sit, I'll be smiled at (genuinely) by the flight attendants and won't be smirked or glared at if I ask for water when they're not in the middle of beverage service. I know if I walk to the back of the plane to stretch my legs, I won't be stink-eyed, like I've interrupted some oh-so-important conversation. I'll be included in the gossip of the lives of people in the most recent airport. I've been flying and traveling for over 20 years, and this is my favorite airline by far. That said, safety concerns.....call me naive, but I can't imagine a company that puts such care & concern into its culture....that makes me love them even though there's not a chance I can rest on their flights (b/c there's always too much fun in the back......or they've found out that SOMEBODY's having a birthday or something)....that has such a GREAT safety record previously.....is really going to RISK IT ALL w/ oversights that are potentially fatal. I just don't buy it. I wonder what motivated "exposers" are hiding in the background. IT'S A FLIPPING PLANE! Can you IMAGINE what nuts & bolts, etc, aren't being checked on a regular basis with ALL of the planes, or trains, or cars or bikes? I'm not being sarcastic. Seriously! Planes are scary by their nature....if there's a crash, just think about how many minutes you have to think about your potential death. But that doesn't mean that they're more likely to cause deaths! When's the last time you checked the air pressure on your tires? When's the last time you put a helmet on when you ride your bike? (OK that's not fair, I live in Hawaii, and you probably don't, and it's "weird" if you wear a helmet here...even on a motorcycle.) OK, I'm done.....this is probably not the point of "blogging", b/c "blog" makes it sound like it should be short...like "BLAHHOG"--- a quick vomit or something. Anyway, I won't be back to check to see any sort of hateful responses from the bored or overzealous, but if you feel super strongly about anything I've written in my novella, you can e-mail me at jenkru@juno.com.