Aircraft from the southwest with security problems endanger 17 million passengers, while the FAA monitor knew it
Southwest Airlines has flown more than 17 million passengers on jets with safety concerns, while the FAA allowed the expiration periods after the agency agreed with the airline’s own assessment that problems were “low risk,” a federal said watchdog Tuesday.
The airline has flown more than 150,000 flights on 88 jets that it purchased on the second-hand aircraft market and that had unconfirmed maintenance histories, said the transport department inspector general in a highly worded report.
According to the report, that put more than 17 million passengers at risk: “FAA has not effectively overseen Southwest Airlines’ security risk management systems.”
Southwest Airlines has flown more than 17 million passengers on jets with safety concerns, while the FAA allowed the expiration periods after the agency agreed with the airline’s own assessment that problems were “low risk,” a federal said watchdog Tuesday
A watchdog said that monitoring of Southwest’s security management system by the Federal Aviation Administration (photo) was ineffective, resulting in a number of ongoing concerns.
The watchdog said that “FAA’s oversight of Southwest’s safety management system was ineffective, resulting in a number of ongoing concerns,” and that the agency relies on the airline’s own risk assessment and indicates that this is a low risk rather than an airline. to comply with its legal requirements. “
A Southwest spokeswoman said the airline was reviewing the report and told DailyMail.com that “we disagree with unsubstantiated references to Southwest’s safety culture.”
A FAA spokesman referred to the agency’s comments in the watchdog report when DailyMail.com contacted.
The report comes after a hotline complaint about FAA oversight was filed in early 2018 with the Inspector General, who warned, among other things, for “incorrect information provided to pilots prior to the flight”.
Then a motor failure in the southwest caused the death of a passenger in April 2018.
Jennifer Riordan, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, mother of two, was sucked out of the window of the plane when the engine failed. The FAA was reportedly aware of the defect that occurred during a flight in Mississippi in 2016.
The report also comes when the FAA is being investigated by Congress for approval of the Boeing 737 MAX, the aircraft that landed after two crashes that killed 346 people.
The first disaster occurred in Indonesia in October 2018, when a MAX flight like Lion Air flight JT 610 fell into the Java Sea 15 minutes after taking off from Jakarta.
All 189 aboard the aircraft died, including 180 Indonesians, one Italian and one Indian.
The second crash occurred on March 10, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, which was also a MAX jet, departed from Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital and crashed.
Critics have said that the FAA is too cozy with airlines and aircraft manufacturers.
Inspector General began investigating FAA surveillance of how Southwest handles risks after a motor explosion caused the death of a passenger in April 2018. Jennifer Riordan, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, mother of two was killed in the tragedy
Damage from an engine failure in the southwest that caused the death of Jennifer Riordan, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, mother of two in April 2018
NTSB researchers investigate damage to a turbofan engine that failed on Southwest Airlines and caused the death of Jennifer Riordan, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, mother of two in April 2018
The report (photo) also comes as another disappointment for the FAA, which is being investigated by Congress for its approval of the Boeing 737 MAX, the plane that was shot down after two crashes in which 346 people died
The Inspector General’s findings reveal that FAA inspectors started in 2017 to find “potentially serious gaps” in the Southwest process for verifying the condition of the aircraft, including major repairs that were not documented and maintenance documents that were not met FAA standards.
Compliance with US standards normally takes up to four weeks by plane, but people hired by Southwest approved 71 of the planes on the same day, the Inspector General said.
Southwest said that 80 of the planes have been inspected and returned to fly, and the last eight are undergoing maintenance.
The FAA gave the airline until this summer to bring the planes into line with federal rules because it accepted Southwest’s argument that the issues were low security risks, the inspector general said.
The watchdog office added that the FAA did not provide its inspectors with adequate guidance in assessing risk assessments and evaluating the safety culture of an airline.
“As a result, FAA cannot guarantee that the carrier operates to the highest degree of safety in the interest of the public, as required by law,” said the Inspector General. That is true, although “FAA representatives – ranging from senior executives to local inspectors – expressed concern about the safety culture at Southwest Airlines.”
Southwest, although “firmly” disagreed with the criticism of the safety culture, said it has taken steps to address the main findings of the report.
“Southwest maintains a compliance culture and recognizes the safety of our operations as the most important thing we do,” said airline spokesperson Michelle Agnew in a statement.
The airline works “to improve every day, any implication that we would tolerate a relaxation of standards is absolutely unfounded.”
Statement by Southwest Airlines on the Inspectorate’s Department of Transport general report February 11, 2020, “FAA has not effectively overseen Southwest Airlines systems for managing security risks”
In 2018, the Inspector General’s DOT office (OIG) started an audit of FAA’s security surveillance of Southwest Airlines with reference to an unsubstantiated hotline complaint and our 1380 event.
Southwest has fully cooperated with the OIG throughout the process and has shared a common goal to strengthen industry and Southwest Safety practices.
We have had the opportunity to review the report and have noted, among other things, that we disagree with unsubstantiated references to Southwest’s safety culture.
In the audit, the OIG also addresses some of the operational challenges that we have focused on in the past year – in particular our Weight & Balance program and compliance work on second-hand aircraft.
The OIG audit data collection was completed last fall, and since then we can proudly say that we have made significant progress with these two primary operational items mentioned in the draft audit report.
We added raw material tracking at all our domestic stations at the end of 2019, equipping employees to improve baggage count accuracy and improve the integrity of our weight and balance program.
Our Tech Ops team has also worked hard to ensure that each of the 88 second-hand aircraft listed in the report has performed an extensive physical inspection, from nose to tail, or is currently in the inspection phase. Far before the original FAA deadline.
The proposed civil sanction to which the FAA refers relates to data processing problems that occurred during the transfer of aircraft weight information from one computer system in the southwest to other computer systems in the spring of 2018.
The problems were identified by Southwest at the end of July 2018 and reported to the FAA and fully resolved at the beginning of August 2018.
Since discovering the data deviation in 2018, Southwest, in coordination with the FAA, has improved its weight and balance program by implementing additional controls to strengthen the process of managing aircraft weight data in our systems.
We closely monitor the performance of our overall weight and balance program to support our unwavering commitment to safety, compliance and continuous improvement.
We continue our work with the FAA to demonstrate the effectiveness of our controls and processes and strive for an effective and appropriate solution to the proposed fine.
Southwest maintains a compliance culture and recognizes the safety of our activities as the most important thing we do. We are regarded as one of the world’s most admired companies and have an unprecedented safety record.
Our friends, our families board our plane and none of us would put anything above their safety – this mission unites all of us.
The success of our business in itself depends on the safety of our operations, and although we work on improving every day, any implication that we would tolerate a relaxation of standards is absolutely unfounded.
Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Trade Committee, said the report emphasized “very worrying errors in FAA’s security oversight” and that the committee is investigating many of the same issues.
The agency agreed to all 11 inspector general recommendations to improve Southwest oversight, including new training for inspectors overseeing the country’s fourth largest airline.
The assessment has found a number of problems.
In addition to insufficient maintenance data on used aircraft, Southwest has often failed to provide pilots with accurate information about the weight and balance of taxes on their aircraft for almost two years, which the Inspector General called a major safety fall.
Last month, the FAA proposed a fine of $ 3.9 million for incorrect weight calculations on more than 21,500 flights. Southwest can fight the punishment.
FAA Response to Inspector General Transport’s General Report February 11, 2020, “FAA has not effectively monitored Southwest Airlines systems for managing security risks”
We agree that the FAA Certificate Management Office (CMO) of Southwest Airlines (SWA) has not performed in accordance with the existing guidelines by having 88 aircraft (the ‘Skyline’ aircraft) put into service via the SWA compliance process , which lacked a comprehensive compliance check for used aircraft.
Regarding performance weight and balance, we agree that the SWA CMO sometimes did not perform in accordance with existing guidelines. When the FAA leadership became aware of these issues, the agency undertook or conducted various actions described below to address the security issues set out in the draft OIG report.
Leadership & Culture
In addition to actions to address these security issues in particular, the FAA appointed a new CMO leadership team on June 23, 2019 to resolve system issues with the internal and external relationships of SWA CMO. This team continues to address shortcomings in work functions and culture within the SWA CMO by improving communication and increasing confidence. The new leadership team has taken several steps to improve the overall office environment.
SWA Skyline aircraft
• In April 2018, the SWA CMO withdrew SWA’s ability to perform compliance inspections prior to adding aircraft to the revenue service. The SWA CMO now participates in the conformity process for all aircraft.
• In October 2019, SWA reviewed all data from previous repair assessments of the Skyline fleet. The FAA has instructed SWA to check the maintenance history of the remaining aircraft for evidence of incidents and accidents, tail attacks or hard landings and repairs to the fatigue-critical baseline structure. This assessment also included the effects of airworthiness directives (AD) or maintenance instructions issued after 2018, evaluation of flight quality assurance data and digital flight data recorder information that indicate fatigue in primary structural or fatigue-critical areas, and trends with regard to other aircraft from the same country or same region.
• We will continue to follow the completion of SWA’s repair plan for the Skyline aircraft by SWA. From January 8, 2020, SWA reported that it had completed the full RAP assessment of 67 aircraft and evaluated 752 repairs (i.e., 76% of the 88 aircraft complete).
On 38 of the 67 aircraft assessed, Southwest reported a total of 125 findings regarding the primary structure, of which 19 undocumented repairs supported by equivalence; 18 were undocumented repairs that did not satisfy the equivalence, and 88 were documented repairs that did not comply. In addition, Southwest reported 69 findings regarding composite structures, which are not considered to be fatigue critical in these aircraft.
SWA reports that all non-compliant repairs to composite structures have been replaced. SWA did not report overflow requirements for follow-up ads. SWA also reported that all non-documented non-equivalent and non-compliant repairs have been removed and replaced. The Skyline RAP appears to be completed on schedule by the mutually agreed accelerated deadline, with the last aircraft scheduled for RAP induction on the evening of January 31, 2020.
Any Skyline aircraft that does not receive the RAP inspections and repairs before January 31, 2020 will remain on the ground until the RAP work is completed.
• The FAA examines the performance of designated airworthiness representatives hired by SWA to perform the initial compliance inspections and will remedy all identified shortcomings. SWA Weight and balance
• In July 2018, the Alaska Airlines CMO FAOs carried out an independent evaluation of the SWA performance weight and balance program, as well as the activities of the SWA CMO. The Alaska Airlines CMO determined that the approach to safety assurance was appropriate and that the actions of SWA improved the performance weight and balance sheet program.
Although weight and balance control is crucial for flight safety, the problems at SWA rarely had to do with an incorrect miscount that significantly affected aircraft loading.
Nevertheless, this type of error remains a cause for concern and an area of constant CMO surveillance. The FAA opened a weight and balance maintenance case, but closed it because SWA had reported the underlying violation under the FAA’s Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program. The FAA then continued the issue as a compliance action.
• In addition, between September 2019 and October 2019, the SWA CMO completed 202 adapted tools for data collection on performance weight and balance. This supervision resulted in a compliance action on 29 October 2019. The FAA continues to monitor the implementation by SWA of corrective measures.
• In addition to increased monitoring by the SWA CMO, the airline integrated new technology to better manage its baggage count and is working on implementing this technology with freight.
• The agency is considering various compliance and enforcement actions to ensure that the weight and balance procedures at SWA comply with applicable regulations. In addition to the open compliance action against SWA for performance weight and balance, the FAA proposed a civil sanction against SWA in an unrelated case about empty business weight.
Southwest has said it has improved its weight and freight balance system.
The report also said that FAA did not evaluate Southwest risk assessment after a hard landing last year during dangerous gusts of wind – higher than for which pilots in the southwest were trained – at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.
Both wings of the Boeing 737 were damaged when they hit the runway during the first of three attempted landings before pilots flew to another airport, where they landed safely.