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Records: Southwest Airlines flew 'unsafe' planes

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Records: Southwest Airlines flew 'unsafe' planes

Old 1st Apr 2019, 19:54
  #61 (permalink)  
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Here we go again?

The latest Aviation Maintenance issue has one of the most devastating editorials I've ever seen, in what is by any standard a normally sober and accurate publication.

It discusses the ongoing labour dispute at SWA, and in that context quotes extensively from an FAA Flight Standard's service investigation report, which lists 8 "concerns" that have been "ongoing during the past several years".

I'm not attempting to comment on the labour dispute, except that it is arguable that it is a contributory factor in the FAA's "concerns".

Click here for the For the whole editorial.

Here's a very brief summary of the 8 "concerns";
  1. Degraded supervisory maintenance culture
  2. Retaliation against QC Inspectors for reporting valid findings of maintenance discrepancies
  3. Among larger carriers, SWA has the lowest mechanic to aircraft ratio
  4. The company flew 44 aircraft in an unairworthy condition (improper skin panel repairs) and continued to do so for 6 months after the FAA advised SWA the aircraft were non-compliant
  5. Mechanics subject to increasing pressure to refrain from reporting damage which required remedial maintenance to maintain airworthiness
  6. Mechanics warned that they would be disciplined if they continued to report discrepancies with cargo liners
  7. Mechanics threatened with discipline including termination
  8. Threats of a higher level of scrutiny and various other sanctions, for writing up discrepancies and bringing non-compliance to the attention of supervisors"
Now, would anyone agree that in most of the world outside the USA, including many developing countries, a report of that nature would pretty much ground a carrier?

I have always believed that the FAA, and the USA aviation industry, were the world's leaders in standards and competence. Is my use of the past tense right?

The battle of law suits between the airline and the union(s) is one thing, and the pronouncements of both sides can be taken with a pinch of salt.

But how the hell is SWA still flying commercial passengers, if that FAA report is even only half right? Has everything suddenly improved 1000%?

Last edited by old,not bold; 1st Apr 2019 at 20:09.
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Old 2nd Apr 2019, 13:19
  #62 (permalink)  
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any supervisor who threatens an engineer with reprisals for doing their job properly should be in jail...
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Old 2nd Apr 2019, 13:48
  #63 (permalink)  
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That list is astonishing. In nearly 40 years working aeroplanes I've never been chastised for reporting a fault. Quite the opposite in fact.
There really must be a real culture problem in SWA.
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Old 2nd Apr 2019, 16:38
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Originally Posted by coz96
cnn says: "The planes were "not airworthy," according to congressional air safety investigators."

This would leave me to believe an AD was not complied with? Unless of course cnn is taking some liberties in the use of the word "airworthy", and why would a news organization do that?

Then I read further down: "He said both FAA managers and the airline may also have broken the law..."

If it was an AD then it seems like there is no gray area, so the "may have" seems out of place. Could it have just been some SBs?
Not necessarily an AD inspection. Could have been an SB, or even maint program inspection or required rectification. The fact that "FAA managers" are involved hints that maybe variations / extensions were given when data for supporting extension was inadequate. Failing to carry out a required inspection / rectification by due date /time/hrs/cycles technically renders aeroplane unairworthy, even though there (may) be nothing wrong physically.
"improper skin repairs" implies that these were done (ie scoped and drawn up) in-house without perhaps, input from the Type cert holder

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Old 2nd Apr 2019, 17:08
  #65 (permalink)  
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It would be interesting to learn more about specifics. I guess we will hear more shortly.

But definitely doesn't sound good.
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Old 2nd Apr 2019, 19:31
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This was always the concern once the charismatic founder retired and the beancounters took over. No different than Tim Cook at Apple or anywhere else. There's the people who are passionate about the company and the people who are passionate about the company's numbers. They're very different people and they produce very different results. Kelleher was a lawyer who essentially gave up practicing full time, along with Muse and others, to found an airline. Kelly was an accounting auditor who moved in to become CFO and remains from that side of the business. Might be a great guy, but there's Herb Kelleher and there's Gary Kelly and they're different people who produce different results.
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Old 2nd Apr 2019, 19:52
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Originally Posted by Bangkokian
There's the people who are passionate about the company and the people who are passionate about the company's numbers. They're very different people and they produce very different results.
No truer words were ever spoken.
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Old 3rd Apr 2019, 19:25
  #68 (permalink)  
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Ivor; that post by coz96 was from 2008; I guess it connects with the latest FAA report I referenced above, but only in a very general sense.
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