Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

We Take Safety Seriously

pberg
Not applicable
Friends - Many of you are writing to us concerned about today's news reports regarding the safety and inspections of Southwest Airlines' aircraft.  Let me assure you, first and foremost, that no one is more passionate about the safety of our Customers and Employees than we are, and it is important for you all to know that the situation being reported in the media was never and is not now a safety of flight issue. The FAA has issued what is called a "letter of penalty" to Southwest Airlines regarding one of many routine, redundant, and overlapping inspections of our fleet.  The specific inspection in question involves an extremely small area in one of many overlapping inspections designed to detect early signs of skin cracking on our aircraft.   In March 2007, Southwest Airlines discovered a missed inspection area, disclosed the information to the FAA, and promptly reinspected all of our potentially affected aircraft. The FAA approved our actions at that time and considered the matter closed as of April 2007.  The Boeing Company, which manufactures all of our aircraft, also supported our aggressive compliance plan, and has issued a statement confirming that we acted responsibly and, more importantly, that the safety of our fleet was not compromised.   The FAA has concerns about the inspection process, which we are willing and eager to work with them to resolve.  Receipt of the FAA's letter of penalty gives us the opportunity to present both our case and the facts, which we feel will support our actions taken back in March 2007. We assure you that this issue never compromised the safety of our fleet.  Southwest has an excellent maintenance program, with more Boeing 737 aircraft experience than any carrier in the world.  Safety is, has always been, and will always will be our number one priority. 
186 Comments
IndustryInsider
Not applicable
Herkpilot, Actually, I do know exactly what FAA told SWA, and I also know what the FAA has said regarding the FORMER FAA Supervisory Principal Maintenance Inspector who allowed it to continue in violation of the FARs. He is no longer overseeing airlines. I also know there are no exceptions to grounding after self-disclosure for AD non-compliance. Check the rules, my friend. With regard to the FORMER, NTSB inspector (Greg Feith) HIRED by SWA, well, hired guns often say whatever you want them to say, since you are paying them after all. However, if you read what Mr. Feith said, he never actually commented on the fact that there are no exceptions for flying past an AD. In a carefully worded statement, he basically said (in perfect 20/20 hindsight) that the airplanes were OK as we sit here one year later, and they very obviously didn't come apart in mid-air. However, that is neither the point, nor a valid safety compliance argument. The problem is unless you do mandatory AD inspections, you have no clue whether they are OK or not. That is the purpose of the rule. I repeat, there are NO exceptions allowed in the FARs for overflying ADs, after you become aware of them and especially after you have self-disclosed them. While SWA only flew them 8 days past their self-disclosure to FAA, they were actually overdue by up to 30 months for the AD in question. If after years of experience with these inspections on B-737s, we find that the AD, as currently written, is unnecessary or too rigorous, then a rule change could be undertaken. However, there is a process for that, and there is no excuse for violating the rules as currently written. It is a plain and simple violation. BTW, I beat you by 4 years--I've been doing this for 29 (wink).
Flipper
Not applicable
Southwest never had a crash...in the air. However they do seem to like to overrun the end of the runway. See Burbank 2000 (almost took out a gas station) and Midway 2005 (did kill a 6 year old child on the ground). Poor pilots, poor planes and in my experience poor service. I won't even consider them...I'd rather pay an extra $50 or so on the ticket. This is an issue related to government regulation. Whether or not you're "technically" airworthy is a lot like being partially pregnant in the government eyes. Either all your paperwork is correct and you're airworthy or it isn't and you ain't. I don't care how SWA, JetBlue, AirTran, US AIr, United, Boeing or anyone else classifies it.
Marty1
Not applicable
How come idiots always have misspelled words?
John231
Not applicable
What a crock
John231
Not applicable
Your liar president should quit in shame. If he doesn't, I'm no longer flying your lousy airline.
Liz
Not applicable
Well, I am a disappointed customer. I was a huge fan and frequent flier of Southwest for many years. I am obviously disturbed by what has come to light. I do not feel safe flying this airline for now, so I am flying on other airlines. We'll see how SW does with getting their planes inspected and airworthy, and maybe someday in the future I will consider flying with SW again. This information has definitely changed my opinion of the airline.
Fritz
Not applicable
You're getting a lot of posts that you're not showing. You really do have an obligation to put all of them up rather than carefully culling the sample to create the impression that more peopple are commenting favorably than unfavorably about SWA at this point. Please demonstrate some intellectual honesty on this.
FriendofBlogBoy
Not applicable
Wow, weÃ
Jim1
Not applicable
A frequent flier of Southwest for many years. I have four simple words. You lost my trust.
Christian
Not applicable
Gogogaga. Oh my god! I'm so scared to fly now! Boohoohoo. I mean seriously! They failed to inspect aircraft, bottom line. These aircraft are built 100 times better than your cars. You cry babies act like these planes almost fell apart in the skies. If this scares you so much, then don't drive to the airport in the first place. Your 250 times more likely to die driving to the airport then flying in an aircraft. People are so gullible! Sheep! Go fly on whatever other airlines you want. I tell you what. you want real facts, then goto http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/major.asp . Now tell me SWA is any better or worse than these other airlines that you now wish to fly! AND WOW DO I SEE A LOT OF AMERICAN AIRLINE INCIDENTS!
Not applicable
[...] week’s post “We take safety seriously” (about a voluntary disclosure by the airline of cracks in 2007) began with [...]
Len_Frank
Not applicable
How fascinating it is to watch this debate between Whole Earth Society members and the Flat Earthers. Fascinating! The Flat Earthers, whose motto is "The Planes are Falling, The Planes are Falling!" see corporate evil in every corner. Southwest, they say, is managed by the same evil-doers whose bladders leaked inside the Pinto's gas tank some 25 years ago. "The airline should be 'grounded' for good," they cry! "SW has been putting profit and schedule ahead of passenger safety," they wail! All that's missing is the lament that this is all a Halliburton-Chaney-Bush-Quadrilateral Commission conspiracy. Come on. Enough. Let a little reality sink in: Southwest discovered an internal problem, never hid it, and instead promptly reported it. In this context Southwest's management has been as transparent as anyone around. They reported it to the FAA as soon as they knew about it, and took immediate, reasoned action to correct the error. This all happened about a year ago, and suddenly this week the FAA levied a ten million buck fine. And Minnesota Congressman Oberstar, the patron saint of a nearly bankrupt northwest competitor, chimed in. As Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald once said, "We don't believe in conspiracy theories, but...". Aside from the supportive explanations by loyal Southwest employees, perhaps the best comment so far has been "I love Southwest Airlines. I hardly ever fly Braniff or Eastern anymore." Nor Pacific Southwest, nor PanAm, nor Western, nor... Enough. This entire discussion shows two basic things: Southwest continues to have a fiercely loyal and supportive passenger base, and it's planes have an ongoing structural defect -- there occasionally are some passengers on board whose skins aren't cracked, but who have a whole bunch of screws loose. But fortunately, if they're true to their word, we won't have to worry about these folk any more. They'll all be cooped-up together on one of United's short-haul Brazilian flying cigar tubes. Enough!
Thomas_Sullivan
Not applicable
Hey Len Frank, You conveniently left out the part of the story that had to do with the Whistleblower investigation......about how Southwest used the "cozy" relationship it has with the FAA to go over an FAA inspectors head..... Now the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into possible threats, made against the local FAA inspector who blew the whistle of the FAA and Southwest. http://cbs11tv.com/seenon/Southwest.Airlines.FAA.2.674307.html I think both Southwest and the FAA are in need of a Management shake-up.
Mike_Byrne
Not applicable
Safety is always compromised when bureaucrats make statements like this "..was never and is not now a safety of flight issue". Missed inspections, cracks in the skin, not a safety issue? Blame it on the media, blame it on the FAA, don't accept responsibility for your error. I'll take my business elsewhere. Mike
Anonymous4371
Not applicable
For those of you who want to say Southwest puts "profit over everything" ... If that is so, why were they the only airline not to lay off a single Employee after 9/11, and the only airline to continue flying their full schedule when flights resumed on 9/14, even though they were losing millions of dollars doing so? If you want to say bad things about Southwest, you need to find another mantra. That one "doesn't fly."
Seeding_Clouds
Not applicable
Statement: "The aircraft . . . were unairworthy when they were operated on the flights above because the required AD inspections had not been accomplished." CNN's take: Ã
Robert_Cotten
Not applicable
Goodbye SWA ... it was good while it lasted, but safety is too important to let this one pass. I'll never trust my family's safety or my own safety to you again.
Catsy
Not applicable
I am amazed at the naive posts here who condemn SWA without knowing the facts. Do you have any idea of how many safety issues and violations other airlines never report?? If you don't think this is true, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you. To give you just one example: I happen to know a pilot who left one of those airlines to fly with SW because he was almost coerced into flying a jet for his previous employer he didn't feel was safe. He has every faith in SW, and so do I. Granted, SWA screwed up on this issue but it was certainly not intentional. I only wish I could say the same for other carriers.
scottnearsmf
New Arrival
Memo to those of you that think that Southwest is the only airline that has a safety issue. Notice that no other airline is making any claims about their safety. Read between the lines, all of the airlines will be shown to have the same problem before the end of this summer. You watch.
SCOTT111
Not applicable
Southwest is #1 I don't care what they say!
EMurdock
Not applicable
Why is it that when someone or something is doing very well that we feel the need to see it destroyed? It's some sort of sickness that we feel we are entitled to comment and pass judgement on things that are beyond us. We are not privy to ALL of the facts in ANY "news story". Whatever your opion is about the recent maintenance crisis at Southwest Airlines, make an educated decision, don't allow the media and hysteria to cloud your own judgment. For the record, I have been a Southwest Employee for over 7 years. I love my job and my Southwest Family. I work very hard everyday getting you and your crap from point A to B. I take extreme pride in my Company and will board a Southwest jet today if I need to. It was hard for me to read some of these comments because I take them very personally. You must all know that we are a family and when we take a hit like this it is hard on all of us. We fight, we are jealous, we tease, we talk back, we say things we don't mean BUT when times are tough we come together with love and support that I have never seen anywhere else but in my own family. We are very proud of who we are but we are also hurting very badly right now. That being said, I know our Leaders will fix the problems and our loyal Customers will support us and one of the reasons they is because they feel that they are part of the family too...........and they are. Thank You Eileen/LAS/Ramp
Jim_Richards
Not applicable
I guess the flight attendants will not be making "cracks" on Southwest anymore!!!
RealView
Not applicable
After reading several blogs and watching interviews of customers who are concerned with airline safety, I have a few questions to all persons who fly, especially the people who are being very critical. Here they are: When you get on the airplane do you go over the Emergency briefing card? Do you listen to the Flight Attendant during the Safety Briefing? On some flights do you watch the Safety Video? Do you look to the Flight Attendant as a Waitress/Waiter? I ask these questions because every time I fly I pay attention to the Briefing. If it is an airplane I am unfamiliar with I look over the briefing card. I look throughout the aircraft and can say only 5% of people actually pay attention. Almost nobody pays attention to the beginning of the flight, but are very aware when the donÃ
Oscar
Not applicable
Forget the peanuts, give us silly puddy so we can help cover up the cracks!
Travis
Not applicable
As a pilot, I still stand behind SWA for being known for safety. Remember the Pilot that tried to fly drunk last year? It was SWA that made it a point to have that guy prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Shame on him, but I think it displays the mindset of Upper Management at SWA. Compromise on safety will not be tolerated. Nothing is perfect, but SWA strives for it anyway. 10 million?? come on folks, when will the greed be satisfied? How many catastrophic crashes has SWA had in the past? 0!!! So unless you work there or are more informed than the rest of the media..........Quit your complaining!!!
KM27
Not applicable
When I heard this story, I freaked out a bit. Because months before I read the headline, I was on a Southwest flight from San Diego to Sacramento, and noticed a crack on the window (and I was sitting on the window side :<). I have seen cracks on these planes before (I only fly Southwest). But this crack was on the outside pane. I really just assumed and had faith that it probably was inspected and everything was OK. (But deep down inside, I'm thinking, why is there a crack on the outside of this plane... one I could see quite clearly in front of my face.) It was about an 3/4in.-1in., looked like the kind you see on your windshield after getting hit by a pebble. To hear about violations after the fact makes me a bit nervous.
carolyn_holmes
Not applicable
I was one of the passengers that southwest put into harm's way. I do not understand the concept of no passenger's safety was at risk when southwest violated and continuously violated faa regulations. Over booking flights as well puts us in harm's way by causing annoymosity between irratated passengers. I am no longer going to fly southwest again and I will make sure each and every person I know who loves the sky fly elsewhere. South west has finally crossed the line. I want to know if we can sue them for flying us during these times of violation.
Catsy
Not applicable
To Carolyn; Sorry, but what you have stated are not the facts. If you are so suit happy, perhaps you should fly on another airline; you will undoubtedly find a number of things to sue them over as well.
HI_Everone
Not applicable
I believe you. I sat next to one of your piolets and I believe the plans are safe. Once every two weeks one of my family members is on one of your planes. I would say in the last year at least one of my family members has been on one of your planes every week. I never fly any airline but South West and have received nothing but great service.
tvnutt
Not applicable
Hi, I'm still taking in all the info, opinions, etc. about this incident. Also, as a journalist/TV news producer I apologize to most of the posters who think the media is a spin doctor. I'll have you know that any stories I write and go on the air are fact based and unbiased. The media was just trying to inform the public about this inspection issue...we like to think you, the public, would appreciate this. Anyway, let's not forget that UA, AA and DL ALSO pulled planes because of safety concerns(in this case, wiring. It was wiring that sparked the Swiss Air crash in the 1990s). I don't trust ANY airline but SW(take a look at the other types of aircraft the others use and how old they are). I HOPE SW does consider safety a top priorty. For the life of me, I can't understand why something that happened a year ago is coming to light now? Also, I never have or will believe the FAA(or any gov't agency for that matter) has the public's best interest at heart. It's all politics. PLEASE SW, make sure you're obeying the rules(i'm more concerned about the rudder issue...if you don't have that then you don't have plane that can stay in the air). My family is planning a trip to AZ and we won't fly anything but SW. I'm already worried(2 mos in advance) and I have to take pills just to get to the airport, let alone get on the plane. BTW, you'll recognize me...i"m the nervous one peeking into the cockpit upon boarding.
John_F_2
Not applicable
Everyone's entitled to believe what they want. However, if you're going to beilive the MEDIA you need to think twice. They give the "facts" of whoever pays them the most. I'm a veteran of the war in Iraq. I spent two years there, and many times remember different things happening and the news report being completely different. They only report what sells. Who's going to be interested in a story on an airline doing the right thing? Now, i'm an aircraft mechanic for an airline, but not Southwest unfortunately. I would rather fly Southwest than any other. Everyone needs to realize that if you're not a mechanic, aeronautical engineer, or anything along these lines having to do with building and maintaining aircraft, you're "knowledge" of the situation is backed by absolutely nothing but media reports. AD's often reference a manufacturer service bulletin (SB) for processes to perform the inspection and limitations. If you google 737 skin cracking AD's you will find a few different ones. READ THEM! You don't need to know what it all means, but you'll see what it consits of. On the topic of SB's, they are writtn by the manufacturer's engineers. These are people that are paid a lot of money to know what they're talking about. Being that the maintenance manual issued by the manufacturer is FAA approved, the engineers can also issue documents to aid in calling something "good or bad" on an aircraft, and assist maintenance in this way often. I'm not saying anything wasn't missed. But they did report it on their own. Which is far above what many would do. If you don't have a background in aircraft maintenance or engineering, nothing against any of you, think about it a little before you call something "unsafe". Being a frequent flier doesn't make you a mechanic.
Not applicable
[...] de la FAA. La premiÃ
Mel
Not applicable
Regardless, I still trust SW over any other airline...bottom line. History shows it's the most ethical airline, putting the most faith in it's people...which more companies should take note on. Next time I get a chance to get out of the midwest (hoping for disneyland next summer with the kids) there is no question we will be on Southwest...both for reasons of affordability and trust. Anyone who has posted about cost/prices should look at every other airline and compare.
Anonymous982
Not applicable
WOO HOO! now some people VOW to not fly Southwest- now there is more seat for me pick. I fly out of Chicago a lot and I take southwest every time and after this... still will. Stay home you scary cats.
jasmin
Not applicable
Hi, My fiance and our children are frequent fliers on swa. Especially my fiance that is highly educated buisness (cfo) man and travels sometimes every week. Well today i was more then disappointed. Our children were scheduled to fly back to thier mother from where we live in Las Vegas to El Paso. Well when he brought the 12 and 7 year old to the gate the first childs ticket went through just fine. The second childs ticket did not. They claimed he was already on the plane. My finance explained no. These children just got here and are flying alone. Then they give him tickets back and said he needed to get them reprinted . But with the childrens tickets they gave him a random perons ticket. He gave it back said i dont know this person and explained again the children are flying alone. Well he gets to the counter and they start to reprint the botched tickets. The man at the counter gets a call. Then says sorry they gave your tickets to stand by. Then he puts them on another flight ( that he claims is nonstop) an hour later in a different terminal. Well when my fiance and the children arrive to that gate. The desk guys says i wouldnt put your children on this flight its stops in phoenix and they will be bumped off flight becasue they will be on stand by. So obvioulsy we are not going to put our 12 and 7 year old children on a flight where they will be stranded in airport in a random city. So this guy puts them on a later flight. They come back home. I then check the flights. This flight too stops in Phoenix. So my fiance calls the reservation desk, they then tell him. Policy is not to give childrens seats away when they are right there at the gate and the Plane IS STILL there. He assures us when we do get them on a the flight tonight the will NOT be taken off the plane. Which I REALLY hope does happen!!!!!!!!! So now they got put on a plane that gets them at the airport at almost 11pm on a school night . When we had the kids there in time to make thier original plane that would have gotten them thier at 5pm. I would not be so upset and worried if this was not children flying alone. I would really like an apology and assureance there is safety for our children flying. That was not shown today. We can show you our itenariers, so you can see how often we travel. I am just disappointed, we normally get great service. But terrible service and so many mistakes when its children flying is a huge problem. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Jasmin
LK
Not applicable
I would like an update on this report. I booked a flight with my family, which includes a 18 mo old. I'm never a fan of flying but now that I have a child I need to make sure safety is a priority. If possible please contact me with an update before July 8, 2010