Published on : Tuesday, November 12, 2019
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has threatened to ground more than three dozens of Boeing 737 planes that Southwest Airlines bought from foreign carriers over a lack of safety and repair documentation.
U.S. aviation regulators last month threatened to ground more than three dozen, according to a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration that was made public on Monday.
The issues, reported traced back to what the FAA said were required documents for 88 planes in question, which Southwest purchased from 16 foreign carriers, according to a U.S. Senate committee that released some of the documents and is requesting more information from the agency.
The planes make up about 11% of Southwest’s fleet of roughly 750 planes. Southwest did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Southwest has completed the FAA’s tasks for most of the planes but has yet to provide documentation on 38 more that are still flying.
An FAA official, John Posey, who oversees the airline, complained in an Oct. 29 letter to Southwest’s COO about the slow pace of Southwest’s review of the planes. The agency wanted the company to outline issues the planes encountered, including bird strikes, lightning strikes, hard landings or uncontained engine failure.
If the FAA’s concerns are not adequately addressed, the FAA may exercise remedies up to and including grounding the aircraft” until Southwest complies, the letter said. Southwest told the FAA it would ramp up inspections to complete them by Jan. 31, instead of a deadline of July 1, 2020, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation said.
In response, the FAA communicated to congressional committees of jurisdiction that it believes Southwest Airlines is taking the FAA’s concerns seriously and that revoking the airworthiness certificates of the uninspected aircraft is unnecessary.
The paperwork issues led the airline and the FAA to develop a backup inspection and verification program, according to the documents. Southwest told the FAA it had 50 employees examine 63,000 repair documents in 15 languages.