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Southwest Airlines' CEO Appears on CNN

cday
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Our CEO, Gary Kelly, appeared on CNN this morning to address concerns regarding the safety and inspections of our aircraft. Please click this link to watch:  http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2008/03/07/intv.gary.kelly.roberts.cnn?iref=videosearch
69 Comments
Chuck_N_
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Alex, you're right, you have a higher chance crashing your car than flying AA, UAL, USAir, JetBlue, Frontier, etc... At least they haven't avoided inspections like SWA and NWA!
Anonymous987
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What I find most troubling about this entire airworthiness directive (AD) affair *isn't* that some aircraft missed an inspection deadline, but how the media strives for immediacy in reporting at the expense of the facts (all of them, not just some) and the proper context of those facts. Southwest apparently missed an inspection area that constituted about 1% of the requirements of the AD, meaning that 99% of the other inspection requirements had been complied with. To hear the media tell it, Southwest didn't inspect any aircraft at all. Nor does *every* crack spell immediate doom for an aircraftÃ
Griffin_Mill
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I have flown extensively for business over the last 15 years, I have a pilot's license, and a degree in aviation safety and SWA has been and I predict will continue to be one of the safest and most successful airlines extant. Those of you bed-wetting liberals who believe the media hype and political agenda and are now scared to fly SWA - good riddance to you. I will enjoy having more open seats that SWA can sell to level-headed, intelligent, and responsible people who are undoubtedly more pleasant to be around. To "Tom" who posted on March 10 - you say that you don't wish to fly on 733 aircraft (737-300) because they are "old." It may interest to know that many of SWA's -300 series aircraft were purchased in the 1990's all the way up to their first delivery of a -700 which occurred, I believe, in late 1997. So, the majority of -300 aircraft are not old. Also, you might note that the proper designator for the -700 is 73G.
Concerned_Passe
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The safety record for Southwest isn't that great. There was one fatality recently. Remember the winter landing on a contaminated runway at Chicago's Midway airport? 2007 - Southwest slid off the taxi way in Spokane Washington, most likely because they were taxiing at the fast pace they usually do. Nothing wrong with that, however there was 6 inches of snow on the ground! Most people know to slow down while it's snowing. 2005 - Southwest was trying a new breaking procedure on a very contaminated runway that was shorter than normal at Chicago Midway. They went through the end of the runway and across a busy intersection killing an innocent 5 year old sitting in the car with his dad. 2000 - Southwest went through the end of the runway again in just rain. They landed going way too fast and about half way down the runway, much farther than they should have before a go around was initiated. That go around was never initiated and the plane went through the runway and across a busy road and parked, after losing the landing gear, at a Chevron station. Would have caused a nice sized fireball. These are all things that could have been averted if better decisions were made. They didn't have to happen.
Herkpilot
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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.
kelli-bartlett-
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To Concerned Passenger: Bet I could guess who you work for! Any safety related incident is unfortunate. As a SW Flight Attendant, I am thankful to work for an airline that really does put safety first. It does not surprise me that SW addressed the problem then took care of it. As for other airlines (Concerned Passenger), check their track record and you will see ... Southwest has been doing something right over the 37 years. Southwest has always stressed Safety the #1 Priority. God bless Southwest Airlines, and all the wonderful passengers that fly with us!
Jim_Gray
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Think about this: Rep. James Oberstar is a Democrat from Minnesota and... Rep. Oberstar heads the House Transportation Committee and... Minnesota is the Headquarters for Northwest Airlines and... Northwest Airlines has serious labor and financial problems and ... This whole thing wreaks of Politics! Southwest does it better than any other carrier out there and the Drive-by Media know it........but ratings win out over the truth every time.
sparky
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This keeps going down here.. As a Mechanic with 10+ years 737 experience, As state above, all airplanes have cracks. Maintenance departments work very vigoursly to find and fix these as soon as they are found. To answer the above statement on 3 incidences with SWA, The issue here is Maintenance, those were not maint issues and off topic in my opinion. I worked for another airline, A/C made VERY VERY ROUGH Landing (a 737, not SWA). Bounced about 4 times down the runway. Pilot Wrote in the Logbook: "A/C Autoland Very Rough". Working Line Avionics, I got to look at the problem. The solution was a couple lose nuts in the cockpit. My signoff as it appeared "This A/C NOT Autoland Capible!". This was an incident that caused some issues in the company (atleast CNN did not see it), The Loose Nuts had some VERY hard questions to answer. But this WAS NOT A MAINTENANCE ISSUE. Reseaching SWA, which I have done exentisvly (and I am not an SWA Employee), there are NO OTHER maint issues with SWA. Why does everyone keep throwing (virtual) rocks here. They admitted fault, worked to fix the problem, and working to make sure it does not happen again. Once flying on an SWA Airline, I noticed a MINOR Hydraulic leak, as a Licensed A&P Mechanic. I notified the Flight Crew. I know where the problem was, even though I do not know the exact problem. But what I do know, is that a properly and effieciently trained mechanic responded to the problem, and the plane made its next flight with little or no delay. I salute SWA for thier efficiency and professionalism in maintaining their a/c to such a high level. I also remember on my first flight on SWA noting that how nice the Interior looked. Almost Brand New, I asked the crew if it was just out of heavy... He said no, but it was getting ready to go back in to maintenance. I thought, WOW, these planes are really maintained to an exceptional high level of maintenance. If they do this good on the Interior where it does not count, what do they do on the outside where it does. I only wish the Airline that I worked for had this level of competience and nice looking cabins! As a closing note to all of you complaining about how bad this is... The next time that you make a Mistake.. I hope that CNN is there to support you and stretch your story so far out of propotion that all the rest of us can enjoy your pains that you are suffering... That is all that is going on right now. CNN Got an article, throwing it out of propotion, making profits on it at SWA's Loss... Nothing more, nothing less.
Tony2
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I heard on the news today that Southwest is cancelling some flights because of the planes they grounded. I am flying Southwest tomorrow, and it would sure be nice to know if my flight is being cancelled. Of course, there is nothing on the Southwest website about cancelled flights. I hope I don't show up at the airport tomorrow and discover there is no plane to board.
Capt__Noor_Wahj
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I'm a remote lover of SWA. And I'm dreaming having a compound like Herb and Barret founded. A safety finding is relity in life, and yet in aviation business. There's never been 100% safe at all times, unless in heaven What's published in media concerning SWA is nothing but routine in our life. It's not a sin, at all.. The credit is when the organization respond it properly, effectively. Chain of corrective and remedial respond and action building an endless improvement in any specific area.. That's the case Look ahead, go further miles and miles Best Regards, Capt. Noor Wahjudie n.wahjudie@garuda-indonesia.com cell. + 62 813 18 586 586
Chuck
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It is honorable to try to be a "Company man" when the Company is taking such a beating. However, as Employees were vigorously defending SWA, Southwest Airlines grounded 41 aircraft. "Doing the right thing" AFTER you get caught doesn't cut it. Courteous and friendly service doesn't go a heckuva long way when the skin of your plane is ripped off at 30,000 feet, does it? Furthermore, Southwest's flat out denial of any wrongdoing on Monday, and then "suspending" three MX yuckety-yuks (only three???), and now grounding 41 A/C in less than 48 hours speaks volumes about the integrity of the Company. Ivestigation, investischmation. If anything, the American public should be aware that if SWA is good at anything, it is maintaining a good "brand" on its Company name. Besides the last year or so, when was the last time you heard anything bad about SWA? It's not because bad things, lawsuits and the bad press isn't readily available- I can assure you of that. It is because SWA hides, covers up, pays off, settles with...etc- however you want to word it- anyone that may make the Company look bad. They have the cash and funding to afford that luxury. This time, they could not do that- and of all things, it had to involve not a skimpy skirt, not oversized Customers, but the MOST important facet of any airline- safety. You can spin that however you want. Yes, the MX folks at Southwest are among the best in the biz. Sure, they "care". It would be one thing if this involved one or two aircraft- an easy paper mistake. But 41 airplanes? Even the king of name branders can't duck and cover from that one. Sorry- it's a bitter pill to swallow (especially for Employees). Employees must now ask themselves: "now that the Company can't cut corners with the safety of the flying public anymore, where will that money come from?" Contracts for all major Employee groups are expiring soon...stay tuned!
FriendofBlogBoy
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Wow, weÃ
Gene_Bland
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What do you folks lay the odds that a high calibre maintenance organization with qualified inspectors using approved software could miss a structural AD? Not logical. There must be a better explanation... Did the FAA lie to SWA? You bet! Look at the results of the FAA internal investigation: Aviation Safety Inspector Comeau leaves FAA and goes to work for SWA. This violates the ethics law. Call Kim Tolar FAA Ethics Lawyer SW Region for verification. FAA Supervisor Gawadzinski removed for conflict of interest? FAA Manager of Cert Management Office Michael Mills removed for incompetence? FAA Division Manager Tomas J. Stuckey retaliates against whistleblowers Bobby Boutris and Douglas Peters by putting them under investigation by his hit team from FAA Security. This is how I know: I suffered retaliation for the last ten years in the FAA for making whistleblower disclosures to congress three times, and again for disclosures to the Office of Special Council (three more times). I have a lawsuit pending in Federal District Court against the FAA. The older inspectors are being forced out and replaced with younger less experienced inspectors at a lower pay scale. It's called dumbing down the agency. The new hires will top out at a lower grade than I hired in at in 1990. The reporters from the Dallas Morning News were very careful to learn the facts before printing their story. I know because I briefed them about Aging Aircraft Structural Inspections, AD's and Boeing SSID's. Myself and many others who have been forced to retire from the FAA are dedicated to the safety of the flying public and the aviation community. That is why we came forward at great cost. The FAA in its present form is about power and personal gain, not aviation or safety.
Herbert_Siegel
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Dear SW, I am 80 years old, and what few airtrips I take annually have been with you. I am at an age where I know that I must accept the "inevitable". I have reserved a flight at the end of this month from Fort Lauderdale to Chicago Midway and return. Just assure me that my "inevitable" will not be due to traveling in one of your aircraft that has no business being up there. That's all I ask. Can you do that much for me? Thank you. Herbert Siegel Deerfield Beach, Florida
Herbert_Siegel
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what "moderation"?
Ken3
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All of you frequent fliers that are "re-evaluating" your future flights on Southwest, ask yourself a question, has anything ever happened? NO. These safety checks are due because of ONE aircraft in 1988 that lost ONE flight attendant. I highly doubt that Southwest would have continued flying these planes if danger were imminent.
FriendofBlogBoy
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Ken, Look on the bright side -- when all of these agitated travelers "re-evaluate" their risks of traveling on Southwest and every other airline or means of public transportation, our freeways, buses, trains, planes and airports will be so much less crowded. These folks are quite correct, as the risks of personal injury or incidents of any type will be significantly reduced if they just stay at home. Now, let's tackle the issue of the safety of eating at a public restaurant, or perhaps going to the mall to do some shopping. Kim External Blog Boy
Mitch2
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UPDATE 1, 16 Mar 08! "Safety & Boarding System Problems"! Safety Issue with an AD not Performed??? Get real!, this is truely not important (a small one-time expensive issue) in the large sceme of things with flying and SWA, when compared with the problems with the SWA Boarding System! I hope you read on and post some of your experiences with the SWA Boarding System (Not based on so-called Tradition or Nostalgia with the Cattle Call Boarding System!)! Although Important because aircraft safety is involved (one-instance), the real safety issue with SWA is not the one being talked about endlessly! Its the crazy/weird SWA Boarding system that could get you in a fight or ran over by other Passengers trying to be first in line or get in their correct SWA assigned row position! SWA Passengers need to write and lobby SWA Mgt to make some logical changes ( a real break from no reserved seating) to its non-functional Boarding System and its new rule to Board Women, Children, and handicapped Passengers between BC (Business Class) and Row B Passengers! This is a disservice to all Passengers in that such needy Passengers are more inconvienced and B row Passengers have no chance of getting decent seats! Former A row Passengers are now relegated to 2nd Class Passengers and get what seats that may be left after high paying BC Passengers board First (if they are on-time) to get a preferred seat! Just try getting a low A row number now on full flights 24 Hours in advance, when BC can get theirs 36 Hours in advance! This completes the update One! ------------------------------ New Boarding Process-After the Holidays (Title from Archived Blog ending Feb 08) This Blog space is too small (I think) to list all my negative comments about the new boarding system (even much worst then the hated old one), so I plan to follow-up with a formal USPS letter (SWA still does not accept email letters, due to bone-headed tradition and plain poor and slow Customer Service feedback options!!) to the SWAÃ
H__Rex_Greene__
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The latest changes in airline security will not increase safety, but they will turn flying into mobile penitentiaries. I've visited someone in prison. I don't want to duplicate that experience when I travel. I'll take my chances with a suicidal idiot getting on my flight--the odds of which would be reduced by an intelligent approach to address real threats rather than humiliating hundreds of millions of innocent travelers. I hope someone from SWA reads this post. Listen up: I will decrease my flying to the irreducible minimum unless we roll back all the idiocy that only turns law-abiding travelers into cattle. Dump the shoe searches and all the rest of the useless dragnet approach to violating our privacy. Put pressure on the federal government to focus security on travelers with a high probability of terrorist activity. Search them. Search their luggage. Don't let them buy cash tickets and travel without a passport (duh). Let the rest of us travel in peace and dignity.