Southwest Airlines yesterday (12 March) removed 38 of its fleet from scheduled service for maintenance checks after it found ”an ambiguity” in its records relating to required tests on the aircraft.
In total 44 were affected, but one was retired and five already in maintenance for scheduled checks.
Around 4% of flights were canceled, and the ongoing review of Southwest's maintenance programmes, policies, and procedures ”could potentially create other operational changes if the airline needs to swap or reroute aircraft as the investigation and audit unfolds,” the carrier said.
An updated evening statement from the airline said that as of 20:00 Central Time, 28 of the 38 re-inspections were completed, and it expected to complete all of them by the end of the night. It anticipated normal operations to resume on Thursday morning.
”Any repairs identified as a result of these re-inspections will be made before those aircraft are returned to service,” read the statement.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said the airline is taking action on preliminary findings of its own internal investigation into allegations that it violated Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations in March 2007.
Kelly vowed to make any changes necessary to ensure that the airline is in full compliance with FAA Airworthiness Directives During, and it was during last night's review of its maintenance records that the airline ”discovered an ambiguity related to required testing.”
”Southwest made the decision to take a conservative approach and remove aircraft out of scheduled service.”
An action has been initiated by the FAA to fine Southwest an unprecedented $10.2m (”5m) for failing to perform mandatory inspections on 46 of its aircraft last March ” and on six of them it subsequently found fuselage damage.
On Tuesday the carrier placed three employees on ”administrative leave”, while Kelly said: ”We have been a safe company. I believe we are a safe company. I am committed to making sure we become safer still.”