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Southwest Airlines Community

Statement from Gary Kelly in Response to 20/20 Episode on Friday, May 11


The past month has been a very sad and somber time for all of us at Southwest Airlines, and our entire Southwest Family mourns the loss of Jennifer Riordan, who tragically lost her life on April 17 as a Customer on Flight #1380. In response to a 20/20 program about the events surrounding the accident, I welcome the opportunity to share an update with you and emphasize a few key points.


First and foremost, my top priority at all times is the Safety and Security of our Employees and Customers—nothing is more important to me or the nearly 60,000 Southwest Family Members. Southwest Airlines has one of the best Safety records of any airline in the world throughout our nearly 48-year history. We are proud of our Safety record, and we work diligently every day to make a safe airline even safer.


Once again, I commend our Crew of Flight #1380, our Team in Philadelphia who had the unexpected and very difficult task of serving these Customers, the first responders, the Customers onboard who responded heroically to attempt to save Mrs. Riordan, as well as our entire response Team at Southwest.


We are in the early stages of the investigation—cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to find out exactly what happened and why. Due to the NTSB’s guidelines, we are limited in the information we are able to provide during the investigation, and we respect their oversight.


As a result of the Flight #1380 accident, we accelerated an existing program by ordering the immediate inspection of all fan blades on the CFM56 engine family. These checks are performed by highly-skilled Southwest Mechanics using ultrasonic techniques. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to our Mechanics who answered the call and have worked diligently to perform these inspections—they have made us all very proud. We are on track for a mid-May completion date, and we will provide an update upon the completion of the inspections very soon.


With a fleet of nearly 750 planes and 4,000 flights a day, we have a rigorous and federally-approved maintenance program, subject to continuous oversight by the FAA and in accordance with CFM’s maintenance guidelines. Our commitment to Safety is uncompromising. It is our highest priority—today and always.