Saturday, March 08, 2008

You're Now Free To Fly

Around the Country. That's Southwest's slogan. It seems however you're also free to fly around the country in planes that are not safe. This is the headline from USA Today FAA levels record $10.2M fine against Southwest.The reason for the fine:

The FAA said it will seek the fine from Southwest for flying 46 jets during nine months in 2006 and 2007 without performing required inspections for cracks in the fuselage.

No wonder Southwest is able to offer such great fares.

But it seems there is a further wrinkle in the story. Southwest disclosed to the FAA that it had missed the inspections. It seems the FAA policy is that:

Airlines have been allowed to "disclose" safety problems and escape fines even though inspectors initially discovered the problems, Goodrich said. FAA documents prohibit that practice.

I guess it's good to know that inspections have been missed. But if nothing is ever going to happen to the airline after it discloses the problem doesn't that encourage airlines to continue to miss the inspections. It's sure cheaper just to say oh we missed the inspection knowing nothing will ever happen then actually doing them.

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