Let's try to avoid the "baffle em' with BS" approach, shall we? You are putting out only part of the truth but sound authoritative (the BS part). You have no idea what the FAA told SWA but we do know what SWA told the FAA. A full disclosure, which has been verified by the former chief investigator for the NTSB. As a pilot who has become intimately familiar with the rules and laws over 25 years I know your statement is misleading at least and depending on the circumstance flat out wrong.
While all the rest of you hand-wringing knuckleheads work yourselves into a lather, I'm getting on a Southwest jet in a couple days and I'm going to fly everywhere I can. For those of you who are concerned but have a mature approach which involves getting the facts before you allow your head to spinoff into oblivion, good on ya'. The boneheads at the FAA will likely get taken to the woodshed but SWA will be vindicated. As I said on a previous post, had the FAA wanted to they could've grounded every airplane at their next stop if they fealt there was an issue. They did not. If that was their misstep, then so be it. SWA did nothing to coverup anything and are being fined for complying with what the engineers at Boeing and the FAA directed them to do.
Granted, they shouldn't have missed documenting the inspection of that last 0.6% of the area required in the AD, which may have actually been performed but not documented. What would you do under similar circumstances? Would you have the integrity to do what SWA did, understanding at the time that there could be serious financial penalties resulting from your self-disclosure? The question really is why did the FAA first tell SWA the matter was resolved then come back a year later with an unprecedented fine? Is SWA moving further into Northwest's/Rep Oberstar's turf? Sick the FAA on them.
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I understand many peoples' concerns, as well as the lawyer's sense there's a lawsuit where he can make some money, but this is really silly.
Obviously, if there's an inspection required it needs to be done and documented. Gary Kelley shouldn't have said "it was 99% complete" he should've said "the documentation was 99% complete." Of course, if it isn't documented it didn't happen, but the fact is that approximately 0.6% of the documentation/inspection was missed. The FAA didn't discover this, SWA did and voluntarily disclosed it. They could've put profits ahead of safety and falsified the documentation and never taken the aircraft out of service but they did the responsible thing. They got with the manufacturer and the FAA, came up with a plan all deemed safe and executed that plan, even completeing it earlier than required.
Now if the FAA made a mistake that's not SWA's fault. There is absolutely no eveidence or even credible allegations that SWA deceived the FAA in any way. The FAA as the regulatory authority could've grounded the aircraft at their next stop and demanded they be inspected but that's not what they did. The FAA agreed with Boeing and SWA as to the course of action and now a year later they come out of left field with a $10.2 million fine. There's an agenda here but it's not SWA's agenda.
Cracks. Folks, I don't want to alarm you but all aircraft have cracks in the skin, and frequently in other places. The idea is to catch them before they result in the convertible B737 like what happened in Hawaii. The inspection program developed jointly by SWA and Boeing is the industry standard and resulted in the AD in question.
I'm confident in saying responsible airlines see safety and dollars as hand in hand and not mutually exclusive. Wrecked and grounded airplanes are bad for business. Bad publicity is bad for business as well. I agree with a previous post that Rep. Oberstar definately has an agenda (maybe SWA is planning on going further into NWA turf) and the FAA may have one as well. That might be where I'd look if I were a reporter because it appears there's no evidence of any deception or backroom dealings by SWA.
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