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Southwest Airlines Community

We Take Safety Seriously

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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
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I don't believe you
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How is waiting up to 80 cycles after being aware of non-compliance promptly fixing the problem. I would encourage everyone to read the full text of the letter http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/img/03-08/0307southwestletter.pdf
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As a former ATA employee who loved my Company and my job and was heartbroken when our res office in Chicago closed I always felt 100% confident, secure and safe whenever I flew. Now you're my carrier and I have that same confidence whenever I fly SWA (six flights last year, five the year before and two coming up in the next few months). The co-flights with ATA and SWA started shortly before my office closed and with the co-flights the two companies became a team and we learned about each other. I've always had the highest respect for the management , maintenance crews, pilots, flight attendants, and res teams and know that safefy would never be compromised under any condition. I hope this situation gets resolved quickly and favorably.
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"Safety is, has always been, and will always will be our number one priority." The use of both the active and passive voices in the same verb seems a little unnecessary.
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Well, Well, Well, where do i beging? I fly southwest almost ever friday and sunday on a regular basis, and i must say that i am not suprised that Southwest got in trouble for lack of maintenance. In fact this one plane i flew on (5 times in a three month period) had an emergency exit door that leaked air during flight. I have also seen cracked windows, seats that dont lock in the "full upright and locked position", and overhead storage bins that need to be slamed shut to lock. Just to name a few things. As far as i am concerned, It is also my belief that Boeing is backing up Southwest airlines because Southwest is Boeing's biggest client. (just my belief) But not to worry fellow Southwesters, I am shure that the airfare will once again go up, and gouge their beloved passengers so Southwest can pay for there fines. As for me, i only flew Sothwest because of there afordable prices, but now, i think that the steady rise in airfare from the past couple of years makes me want to start investing in other airlines. Lets face it, for a few dollars more i can buy the seat i want to sit in. Just my opinoin.
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Shame on you Southwest. Admit you were wrong and pay the fine. Then, apologize and hope we'll forgive you. You don't mess with safety, no matter how cheap and fun you are.
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Bryan, You might want to learn to spell correctly before you go around spewing your opinion (notice the correct spelling of the word). I found 9 mistakes, not to mention the horrendous lack of proper capitalization and use of commas and apostrophes. Just my opinion.
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I DO believe you. After much frustration with United, I transferred a couple of years ago to Southwest on parallel runs. After retiring over a year ago, I still have 600,000+ miles banked on United. But I'll take Southwest any day. I have carefully watched your pilots' pre-flight inspections and despite the occasional levity of your crews, I have nearly absolute faith in them. Beyond that I most appreciate the fact that immediately on learning of this error you reported it to the FAA and Boeing. The naysayers can say what they want. I still think that Southwest is the best managed airline in the business. And by the way, my wife will be on a 7 am flight to Oakland tomorrow and will fly to Sacramento on Tuesday!
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I think that Southwest Airlines is run by liars. The Federal Officials are calling this, "the worst violation they have ever seen." Inspections are due and mandatory due to several crashes involving 737 aircraft. If safety was concern, they would have complied. So they are lying. Profit is their concern. This is unbelievable. SOUTHWEST!!!!!!!!!!!! if you can't run your business correctly then don't run it at all but don't come out with a bunch of lies about safety. Just say you are sorry for failing your customers and shareholders, get rid of the morons that think they are managers and hire honest people.
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You say that the FAA letter gives you "the opportunity to present both our case and the facts." I hope that presentation will be thorough and persuasive because the clichÃ
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I am a former employee of America West Airlines, US Air, and Icelandair; therefore, I can appreciate the mission Southwest has maintained within the past decade: allow the general public to travel at an economical cost with safety as its top priority. I comprehend the "politics" of the media, as Southwest has soared in profits as the older carriers have struggled with revenue generation. Therefore, larger carriers are intimidated with Southwest's success! An AIRLINE violation vs. an FAA violation are light years apart! Coincidentally, I now attend Harvard and can smell JEALOUSY a mile away! I am the host of "SHINE or WHINE on the AIRLINE" on BBS Talk Radio in Los Angeles, CA 10PM-11PM EST (7PM-8PMPST) on MONDAY EVENINGS and will defend Southwest to the listening audience. Please call in on Monday, March 10th 10PM-11PMEST/7PM-8PM PST: (818)602-4498 and voice ALL OPINIONS to an international audience. www.bbstalkradio.com
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I have a flight next-next week with Southwest. Can I get a refund? I'm freaking out. I love Southwest, but I highly doubt your story wouldn't have gotten as much news coverage as it did if you really were as blameless as your "apology" says you are. I'm serious about the refund thing, by the way.
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So this is how Southwest keeps fares lower than everybody else - not doing maintenance at scheduled intervals and then attempting to explain away their deficiencies when they get caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Southwest, pay your fine, admit your error and move on or your low fares won't be enough to get people to board your airplanes. Do the right thing and prove to everyone you take responsibility.
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I have to say the article I read in the NY Times is really pretty bad... http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/business/06cnd-air.html?em&ex=1204952400&en=f35ad4c85bff01b7&ei=5087%0A "Four of the planes had four-inch-long cracks, requiring repairs, said Ms. Spitalieri [FAA spokeswoman], although no deaths or injuries resulted. Ã
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Hey, my automobile company just issued a recall for bad suspension parts on my car that could lead to an accident and/or death. Can I get a refund also? Bryan, you're a moron. With over 500 airplanes, the chance of you being on the same exact airplane more than once, let alone 5 is highly unlikely. Your lies are as bad as the press.
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I have recommended SWA to all of my friends and family in the past. In addition, my family flew with SWA many times during the violation period. We are loyal customers and trusted SWA to keep us safe. I am shocked, disillusioned and very disappointed by your lack of good judgement. What were you thinking? You flew planes that were grounded to avoid a disruption in your flight schedule? That is greed! I think we will be looking for a new airline!
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I think there are two sides to every story, and I have chosen to wait until SWA has had their chance to fully present their side before forming an opinion. As for what I've seen today, I sense possible political motives behind the report.. and find it very strange that it took a year before it was mentioned to the public.
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All airlines have various checks and balances designed to avoid overflying AD inspections. So what failed at Southwest and what will be the measures to prevent such events in the future? Could the language of the overlapping AD's have been confusing even to the smart people at Southwest? It will be interesting to hear why SWA continued to fly once the error was discovered. That accounts for most of the proposed fine.
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I typically fly 75,000 to 125,00 miles per year for business. My safety is paramount; I have a family that depends on me for income and very much more. I trust every airline I fly to maintain the safety of it's aircraft. You are lying. Everyone knows it. You know what the rules are, and you violated them. You unnecessarily put your customers' safety at risk. Go to hell. I will NEVER fly you again.
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I'm sorry but I've lost all confidence in Southwest. Whatever your excuses may be, I'll never feel safe with Southwest again...and everyone I know around here shares this sentiment. I've flown exclusively on Southwest for the past 15 years, up and down California, but I'm DEFINITELY switching to JetBlue from now on. I take it as a personal offense that you'd care so little about your customers' safety.
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Southwest would have you believe these violations were limited to 10 days and a few aircraft. Here's CNN's excerpted views, with FAA corroboration: "Documents submitted by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors to congressional investigators allege the airline flew at least 117 of its planes in violation of mandatory safety checks. In some cases, the documents say, the planes flew for 30 months after government inspection deadlines had passed and should have been grounded until the inspections could be completed. The planes were "not airworthy," according to congressional air safety investigators. On Thursday, the FAA initiated actions to seek a $10.2 million civil penalty against Southwest for allegedly operating 46 airplanes without conducting mandatory checks for fuselage cracking. "The FAA is taking action against Southwest Airlines for a failing to follow rules that are designed to protect passengers and crew," Nicholas A. Sabatini, the FAA's associate administrator for aviation safety, said in a written statement." Got a death wish? Go for it....
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Well obviously Southwest Airlines is out to screw passengers and fly them in cracked fuselaged aircraft all over the country with the intention of having massive structural failure in mid-air... and of course because of this, every single one of their Pilots and Flight Attendants are not going to show up for work in the morning in view of the impending catastrophies. Folks, lets be real! Did my stomach sink when I read the report in the morning... yes it did. Did I wonder if I had ever ridden on one of the aircraft listed... of course I did. But did I end up realizing that all of those planes are most likely completely inspected and fixed by NOW? YES! Folks, paranoia is an easy thing to get when faced with an uncertainty like this... something that we don't truly know all the details about. Keep in mind that Southwest is the first airline to have this situation come up. Do you honestly think that all the other airlines are not facing similar problems? Will these other airlines be proactive and try to avoid a similar $10 million penalty by combing through their fleets? Yes they will. What would we be saying if it had been JetBlue, or AirTran or United? Let's get over this as soon as possible for goodness sakes.
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First, kudos for publishing the negative posts in this thread. Good on ya. Now, it seems to me a simple matter to pull the maintenance logs of the equipment cited in the NYT and other articles. Were there cracks? If there were, were they signed off by FAA inspectors? You do not cite any specific violations in your post, other than "missed inspection areas." Well, Paula, if the cracks were detected, these areas weren't "missed," were they? Have there been instances where found cracks were ignored as the article(s) allege, or is all of this bookeeping/administrative insufficiencies? Finally, would you kindly outline the procedures in place that prevent(ed) any further problems for which you are paying a multi-million dollar fine? Perhaps an anecdote or three as to how these new protocols prevented sub-nominal equipment from flying could be included? Thank you.
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GOODBYE SWA.
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I am an employee of SWA. I am very proud to be here. I fly on our planes regularly with my family. My mother is traveling this weekend as a matter of fact. I also happen to work in the Maintenance department. I hope everyone can get the full facts before spewing, because honestly, alot of what I have read has nothing to do with facts. It is alot of statements about things that most people don't understand. And remember, the media likes to put a spin on alot of things. These items were not overlooked, and at no time were our planes unsafe. Don't you think if the FAA thought we were unsafe to fly they would have grounded our fleet? Of course they would have. Also, missing just one piece of paper, or a signature that you need to fly a plane can consider your aircraft "unairworthy"....that has nothing to do with the plane itself or the condition of it. So please, don't jump to alot of conclusions without knowing all of the facts. And as stated before, SAFETY truly is our number one priority! I am proud to be an Employee of SWA!
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Bob, I just wanted to let you know....SWA did not "get caught" with our hands in the cookie jar. It was something we found, and we brought it to the attention of the FAA. There was nothing to hide. Perhaps you should go back and read the above statement Paula wrote.
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I'm sticking with Southwest. I trust these guys.
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This is nothing but a case of insane greed by this company. They would rather risk your life and the lives of your family and friends and it's cheaper for them to settle out of court if a plane goes down. Wake up people. This has always be pervasive but now days, this doesn't really bother the multi-cultural corporations anymore. They now just throw it in your face and say "take it" and we do. What this is friends is a case of pure greed and corporatism gone amok. Corporations are allowed "person" status but are not persons" . They have no empathy, they do not feel guilt and can be labeled as phychopathic. Their only job is to get as much money as possible. That is it. What we are seeing is nothing but pure greed. I am afraid the American people have more things like this to look forward to. It is sad, but this is America now. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I am sick and tired!!!!!
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This was obviously mismanagement by SW, but I do agree that it was probably not as serious, in terms of risk to the passenger, just because no planes were ever grounded by the FAA. Definitely though, it will make me think twice before choosing my next flight.
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Reality check: 1) US aviation is the safest in the world 2) Boeing 737 are among the most scrutinized aircraft in the world because of potential rudder and skin issues 3) there is no reason for airlines to run unsafe aircraft over extended periods, period not financial, not public relations, none. 4) These situations occur and that's why there are checks and balances. Work though it without emotion, find out the facts, and fix what needs to be fixed if anything. Meanwhile, I do trust Southwest has done and will continue to do the right thing.
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I love the people that threaten to take away their business. Just wait until Southwest has the lowest fare for their next trip and I'm sure they'll be on board. I would happily board a Southwest aircraft any day. They did the right thing by bringing light to the problem and going to the FAA about it last year rather than just hope no one finds out about it.
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I still have faith in SW. You are my airline and always will be.
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Just to remind everyone, this is what happens when stress cracks are not taken care of on 737s: http://www.aloha.net/~icarus/ What about those Rudders? SW! Inspections are key.... You have a big PR problem..... and it is an election year, good luck
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Memo to SWA: Instead of handing out bags of peanuts, perhaps you should hand out bottles of Elmer's Glue.
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DALLAS--March 6, 2007--Receipt of the FAA letter of penalty gives us the chance to present our case and get the facts out which we feel will support our actions taken back in March 2007. We understand the FAA's concerns, and we are anxious to work with them. We assure our Customers that this was never a safety of flight issue. The FAA penalty is related to one of many routine and redundant inspections on our aircraft fleet involving an extremely small area in one of the many overlapping inspections. These inspections were designed to detect early signs of skin cracking. Southwest Airlines discovered the missed inspection area, disclosed it to the FAA, and promptly reinspected all potentially affected aircraft in March 2007. The FAA approved our actions and considered the matter closed as of April 2007. The Boeing Company supports Southwest's aggressive compliance plan was technically valid, and in Boeing's opinion, Southwest acted responsibly and the safety of the fleet was not compromised. Southwest has an excellent maintenance program, with more Boeing 737 aircraft experience than any carrier in the world. Our experience has helped improve the overall safety of the fleet. Boeing Statement on Southwest 737 Fleet Safety Southwest Airlines contacted Boeing for verification of their technical opinion that the continued operation of their Classic 737s, for up to ten days until the airplanes could be reinspected, did not pose a safety of flight issue. Based on a thorough review of many factors, including fleet history and test data, as well as other inspections and maintenance previously incorporated, Boeing concluded the 10-day compliance plan was technically valid. In Boeing's opinion, the safety of the Southwest fleet was not compromised. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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LUV SWA 🙂 ALWAYS WILL AND THIS WHAT CHANGE A THING FOR ME.....I'LL STILL BE FLYING ON THOSE LUV MACHINES.
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Things are getting heated. Everyone breathe.
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Not to offend most oy you. But most of you are complete idiots. Faa rules are above and beyond what is required. They are like that in case of a small mistake, no harm down. It missed one check. Just 3 years ago the rule did not exist. Southwest has NEVER had a plane crash. They have one of the best safety records. Belive it or not the airline care about safety as much as you do. If Southwest has a crash that was theri fault do have any idea what that would do to there 34 years of profit. Not to mention due to the slowing economy. I love Southwest and will contiune to fly them. Oh yea have you ever noticed back a year ago in Kansas City during an ice storm. Some other airlines flew. Southwest canceled all there flights to kc th at night. I live in KC.
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It's very hard to take this statement seriously when it seems to be in complete contradiction of the facts released. For someone who is already afraid of flying, it's horrifying that you can so easily put our lives at risk. Supposedly "minor" problems can result in the death of many, many people. As passengers, we assume that the airline we fly takes as many precautions as possible with our lives. When I fly, and I do fly, I will go out of my way to avoid Southwest, and will encourage those I care about to do the same.
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Janet and other posts like hers Have you went above the spped limit at all in the last week. Shame on you for being to greedy to speed and not think of anybody else on the road LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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I have many Southwest Airlines credit cards and have a companion pass because I use my cards so much. I get a free ticket in the mail about every other month. I depend on this airline to keep me close to my family. Please take care of business because alot of lives depend on you. You are the best airline (not fancy but thats ok). Concerned in Texas
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John, an AD is hardly above and beyond, it is MANDITORY.
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Hi, Before we get overly emotional, let us run over a few facts... with background information that may help better understand the situation. - Southwest Airlines has a maintenance program that is approved by the FAA, and that is regularly audited, and during the audits, the FAA did not find any discrepancy in the SWA maintenance program. - Southwest Airlines (like any airline) has a routine review of procedures and processes, and in the course of one of these reviews, discovered that there was a discrepancy in the inspection coverage relating to fatigue cracks/damage. - Following on from this review, Southwest launched corrective action, advising the FAA of the discrepancy, and identifying 46 aircraft that were non-compliant, thus requiring inspection of the affected area of discrepancy. - ALL airlines have a risk evaluation process, and in accordance with the aircraft manufacturer (Boeing), Southwest cleared the affected aircraft for further cycles pending inspection. Southwest carried out the inspections in under 8 days, which by aviation industry standards is extremely good performance, showing that the SWA maintenance organisation took the problem seriously and chose to action the issue immediately. - The subsequent inspections discovered fatigue cracks on the affected area on 6 aircraft. Whilst this may seem a cause for concern, do not forget that the original FAA Airworthiness Directive requires inspections within 4,500 cycles. If during these normal inspections fatigue cracks are detected, they could have started to occur well within the 4,500 cycles. This presumably is why Boeing advised Southwest to clear the aircraft for a limited number of cycles pending inspection - because due to the location of the area and the design of the aircraft, Boeing knew that this would not represent a further risk to passengers. The 46 aircraft flew in total 1451 cycles after the problem was identified - given the SWA utilisation of their aircraft, this is pretty normal. The FAA penalty letter is in accordance with FAA regulations - technically SWA flew aircraft that did not meet the required inspection schedule. However, the penalties imposed are subject to discussion. By carrying out a voluntary disclosure to the FAA, Southwest acted in the best interests of the air transport industry, as another operator with the same type of aircraft could potnetially have the same problem. With the FAA in the loop, those operators will have been advised to check their own maintenance schedules. Imposing a hefty fine should be discussed, as this may discourage other operators from voluntarily disclosing maintenance oversights that could be critical to other operators. The FAA will debate this issue with SWA as well as the Boeing Company. In relation to a comment made that "this is the worst violation that the FAA has ever seen", this comment would be incorrect, as this comment would apply to another operator who about 15 years ago cut costs by not carrying out essential maintenance, and modified/falsified maintenance records, resulting in a fatal accident. That operator is still flying today (with new management!), and the FAA have put measures in place to prevent such a repeat accident. Working in the aerospace industry, I can assure you that there is nothing extraordinary in what Southwest has undergone. Recently, an airline discovered what could be a potential problem with their aircraft engines. Their national authority (the equivalent of the FAA) and the engine manufacturer cleared their aircraft for further limited cycles pending a mandatory inspection of all engines in the fleet, with no adverse impact on safety. The risks were evaluated, and it was (correctly) identified that the aircraft did not present a threat to the safety of passengers. Southwest is still the best airline, with a fantastic maintenance structure that is very much a benchmark for the industry, and a dispatch and reliability rate that very few other operators can match. As well, Southwest have never been reluctant to invest heavily in their fleet, and therefore, as before, I will board a Southwest flight with no particular worries on my mind. And to all you regular travellers out there, if when you board an aircraft you spot something that gives you a concern, feel free to (politely) advise the crew. They are there for your safety as well as your comfort, and will be able to advise as to wether or not there is a real problem. Raphael :o)
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Everyone be clear about the facts: 1. Southwest Airlines discovered the error in the FAA's reporting & Inspection procedure. 2. Southwest REPORTED the error to the FAA. 3. Southwest corrected the Rudder Issues 1 year AHEAD OF THE DEADLINE IMPOSED BY THE FAA. In an era where corporate ethics (thank you Enron) are called into question daily..Southwest Airlines leads the way in Honesty, Integrity & Corporate Responsability!! Which is more than I can say about the irresponsable posts (above) by the ill informed following contributors: NA, G Hart, Janet, JK, Tom, Bob, Greg & Bryan..Get the facts you morons, then post! John Williams
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hmm...Southwest insiders post here much? thx for mocking your own customers - that'll really bring 'em back! "John" - you lack any logical argument so might as well plug your hole.
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It is interesting to see how this situation is being played. First, the problem was reported by SOUTHWEST, not the FAA (why didn't the FAA inspectors find the "missed" inspections in one of their other inspections?). Why, then, is the FAA going to the press with lurid reports of "unairworthy" aircraft being allowed to fly? Is there, prehaps, some grandstanding going on by the FAA, trying to divert attention from some of their own shortcomings, notably in the air traffic control (ATC) system, where, for example, a trainee air traffic controller caused a dangerous situation that had the potential for a mid-air collision a couple of days ago? Will the FAA issue a "fine" against itself for this, and generate as many press releases? Or, perhaps, is the FAA trying to either get its budget increased or to increase its financial flow by levying the "fine"? Yes, Southwest has some planes that are not freshly off the dealer floor. However, they're a lot newer than some of the stuff that other airlines are flying around. I have been on a couple of flights where mechanical problems have developed. In each case, Southwest stopped and took actions to make sure that the plane was safe and got the repairs needed before it went on further trips. Sometimes that meant that we had to offload and change aircraft, delaying us. That disrupts crew schedules, crew times, and passenger schedules, but they did not hesitate to do so in the name of safety. I really wonder if the people who are protesting so loudly take as much care in the maintenance of their personal cars? Before any of us jump to judgement, let's wait to see how this plays out on the FAA hearing process. I suspect we may want to wait until the entire hearing process is completed - I suspect we will find that the enormous fine is quietly dropped either partially or almost completely. I doubt, however, that if this happens, the news "reporters" who put out the hysterical, lurid, screaming headlines about the fines will issue corrections - after all, that kind of thing doesn't make news ratings! And, yes, I'm still flying on Southwest, with complete confidence in them.
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I was really socked and disappointed to hear that SW has been putting profit and schedule ahead of passenger safety. I have been flying SW weekly the past 2 years for work. I am seriously considering never flying SW , until they can gain my trust again. The safety issue needs to be addressed very soon for the good of the company and the peace of minds of their customers !
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"Say it ain't so Joe." My favorite airlines flying planes that haven't passed inspection. That sucks! It would be so much more honest and better to tell the truth, "We screwed up. This will never happen again".
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While we have read a great deal of inflammatory stuff here, the mis-characterization of what has happened, both in the press and in "blogs," is stunning. Southwest *could* have "pencil-whipped" its maintenance records, reflecting on paper compliance with inspection requirements- but half-measures are not in Southwest's business practices. They found it, and they self-reported. Of greatest consequence, of course, is flight safety, and in this, Southwest has proven it is the best, without peer, in the history of scheduled air carriers. Note well: safety and reliable dispatch are linked at the hip, and Southwest's proactive maintenance policies are models for the industry, worldwide. They don't fly dangerous aircraft, for the simple reason that there is no motive to do so, and every motive not to. In addition, of course, Southwest's corporate culture rewards best practices- if any pilot, mechanic or dispatcher had ever had cause to believe an aircraft was in any way unsafe, that plane would not have flown. The Internet allows "posters" a great deal of freedom, through anonymity; from the volume of vitriol I see spewed here, I imagine a pretty good number of the negative postings we are seeing here are by teen-aged fanboys of other carriers, or maybe even actual employees of other carriers. I write as a pilot (non-professional) and frequent user of airlines, including Southwest, and I have reasonable knowledge of how SWA operates. My confidence in Southwest and, most importantly, in the professionalism and commitment of its people (and the freedom those people are given, by the company, to conduct safe operations) remains unshaken, and I will fly them anytime, without hesitation.
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What we all have to remember is that Southwest is not the only airline this happened to. The problem is industry wide-Southwest is just the one that got caught. I believe very strongly that Southwest would never knowingly fly a plane that had serious damage-as in damage that would be extremely detrimental to the safety of passengers. Southwest still has the lowest fares, the best schedules, and the best staff...really examine what the media is saying instead of listening to soundbites. "Southwest doesn't fly there, I don't go there."