FAA Proposes $325,000 Civil Penalty Against Southwest Airlines

Monday, August 17, 2015

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $325,000 civil penalty against Southwest Airlines of Dallas, Texas, for allegedly operating a Boeing 737 that was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.

On July 9, 2014, an FAA inspector performed an aging aircraft inspection on the Boeing 737 while it was at a maintenance facility in San Salvador, El Salvador. The inspector discovered that Southwest improperly recorded a temporary repair to an approximately nine-inch crease in the aluminum skin of the jetliner’s rear cargo door as a permanent repair.

The inspector discovered that this fuselage damage had first been reported in Southwest Airlines’ maintenance records on May 2, 2002, which is when the airline made the temporary repair. The airline was required to inspect the temporary repair every 4,000 flights and complete a permanent repair within 24,000 flights.

However, the FAA alleges the airline operated the aircraft on 24,831 flights without performing the periodic inspections required for the temporary repair. The agency further alleges the airline operated the plane on 4,831 flights beyond the flight threshold by which it was required to have performed the permanent repair. The final repair was completed on July 24, 2014.

Southwest has asked to meet with the FAA to discuss the case.