The Federal Aviation Administration has removed three senior executives from the Office of the Inspectorate
The Inspector General of the Ministry of Transport has been working on some safety issues for many months, these people said. This includes errors by the airline in documenting the maintenance of more than 100 of its jets. Other parts of the probe focus on errors in reliably calculating the weight of checked baggage and dangerous landing incidents where one aircraft struck one wing tip on the asphalt in stormy weather and another streak of such operation and maintenance failures Southwest more recently, though a person who was familiar with the details said that these requests had no impact on staff movements. Reassignments, which were also triggered by allegations that managers were opposed to security inspectors, were reported to FAA staff on Tuesday.
An FAA spokesman refused to comment on personnel matters, but suggested in a statement that changing management was due to long-lasting friction and disputes in the office due to various complaints from whistleblowers. The spokesman said the agency is serious about allegations of security oversight and retaliation, while "steadily improving the overall performance of the FAA organization to meet our critical security mission."
"In order to uphold these principles, we take appropriate action if necessary." said.
A Southwest spokeswoman said she cooperates fully with the General Inspector's probe. "We are absolutely confident that our maintenance procedures will ensure the airworthiness of our aircraft," she said.
The newly assigned employees include Carroll Hebert, Office Manager, and two of his deputies responsible for operation and maintenance. Mr. Hebert did not respond immediately to an e-mail request for a comment. The three managers were temporarily replaced. The naming of a permanent replacement could take months.
The union, which represents FAA security inspectors nationwide, has complained to both FAA Headquarters and Congressional staff about alleged retaliation for management against inspectors who raised security concerns. The union declined to comment.
The personnel shifts that took effect on the weekend and were announced to FAA employees Tuesday morning at the Dallas office followed months of sometimes public, escalating controversy over the control of the Office of Southwest.
Issues investigated by the Inspector General and FAA Headquarters officials include the widespread misjudgment of the total weight of checked baggage loaded on each Southwest flight, according to government officials and internal authorities. This investigation was the subject of an earlier report by the Wall Street Journal.
The FAA's civilian investigations have been found to detect systematic and significant errors in employee calculations and baggage loading practices, leading to potential inconsistencies in pilot takeoff weight calculations.
While the FAA found in some cases that the cargo was more than 1
Inspectorates have been gathering information since last year to interview baggage claim and other inspectors, and are expected to issue a comprehensive FAA oversight report on the Southwest by the end of 2019, some say Persons familiar with the process.
The same part of the agency, which is officially referred to as FAA's Office for the Administration of Certificates for the Southwest, was the subject of much controversy more than a decade ago, as Congressional investigators discovered this Local agency manager had allowed the airline to send tens of thousands of passengers Nearly two dozen planes without passenger transport continue to complete compulsory construction inspections. The public outcry prompted the agency and legislator to refocus FAA's mission to focus exclusively on safety oversight and to cancel its previous responsibility for promoting aviation.
This time, similar debates over political and management priorities have again messed up the office and created a person familiar with the details referred to as a "toxic environment" and who places the management against inspectors who oppose themselves changing, less punitive approach of the Authority to monitor.