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Southwest Fined $325,000 by FAA for Operating Improperly Modified Aircraft

| December 2, 2013 | 8 Comments
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 (file)

Southwest Airlines

The U.S. Department of Transportations Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $325,000 civil penalty against Dallas-based Southwest Airlines for allegedly operating an aircraft that had been improperly modified, violating Federal Aviation Regulations.

On Aug. 29, 2011, maintenance personnel improperly installed a switch that enables flight crews to test the windshield heating system on a Boeing 717 that AirTran Airways Inc. was operating. Southwest is in the process of merging with AirTran.

Proper installation of the switch would have allowed personnel to isolate the windshield anti-ice system that was causing a warning that the windshield heater was failing. Instead, the center and left windshield warning systems were reversed. The right windshield warning system continued to operate properly. The aircraft was operated on 1,140 passenger flights before the problem was corrected.

Southwest has 30 days from receipt of the FAAs civil penalty letter to respond.

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Comments (8)

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  1. David Barnshaw says:

    And it took the FAA two years to do something about it-oh dear-they are as slow as the CAA here in the UK..

  2. Shawn says:

    —> “We’ve reached our yearly budget limit, but we still got a month to go until happy 2014. Should I delay the ______ project?”
    —–> “Ah, no big deal. Let’s pull out the books and see who’s been endangering the flying public in the last couple of years.”
    —–> “…Bingo! They switched a switch. $325,000 should cover the bill.”
    —> “Just doing our job, I guess.”

  3. Dave Blevins says:

    How about we the people fine the FAA for incompetence, and the government can send us our earned refund.
    As John Wayne said to Cary Grant: “You know, them butts will get you in the end”.

  4. Clarence Wade says:

    This is a stupid fine just for a windshield heater switch. I don’t see how anyone’s lives were in danger. The 717 has 5 windows in the cockpit. The FAA needs to use their resources and find the ones that violate safety.

  5. Evan S. says:

    Clarence – violating maintenance/repair rules IS violating safety. Particularly when the culture of violation expands unchecked – - like remember what happened when they didn’t bother with just some little old grease on the jackscrew (Alaska Air)?

    • William says:

      Alaska flight 261 happen not only because of Grease but also because a maintence worker told his supervisor that the jack screw needed to be replaced and the supervisor over ruled his decision on it and in turn the jack screw dethreaded or stripped in ither words failed and cause the crew to plunge into the sea. Also the crew mishandled the aircraft by trying to get the jackscrew to operate which caused it also to fail. Had they followed the book the aircraft would have probably landed safely in LAX that day.

  6. Evan S. says:

    Ergo, violating ‘the book’ – whether maintenance, repair, or even flight IS violating safety. Flight 261 was a chain of events, yes. Precipitated by improper jackscrew greasing.

  7. orca17 says:

    Dear FAA,

    Oops!

    Sincerely,

    Southwest Airlines

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