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The southwest flies 38 jets for which there is no final safety clearance



* FAA official on 24 October recommended landing of Southwest jets without adequate maintenance records

* FAA official made recommendation to the head of agency in a memo published Monday by Senate Trade Committee [19659003] Southwest failed to certify to FAA or passengers that aircraft meet safety standards

Were properly checked before some necessary maintenance documents were translated into English.

* The FAA did not grind the Southwest Jets after the airline agreed to accelerate the required inspections and complete them by the end of January.

More to follow

Southwest Airlines Co.

There are currently more than three dozen jets flying without checking to see if they meet all federal mandatory safety standards. This emerges from government documents that also reveal US regulators who have recently considered grounding the aircraft will address such issues related to the operation of used foreign aircraft that Southwest has added to its fleet over the years Investigate documents and persons who are familiar with the details. In letters to the Federal Aviation Administration in the past two weeks, the airline has stated that it has previously detected dozens of problematic repairs to other aircraft prior to the purchase of these aircraft. The issues included inferior or incorrect corrections.

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The basic problem in the Southwest is the lack of reliable documentation required to check for repairs, minor corrections, and a variety of maintenance while the planes were flown by their previous operators. Without clear documentation, neither Southwest nor the regulators can prove conclusively that all safety requirements have been met.

Southwest's difficulty in documenting the maintenance history of its aircraft is unusual. The company initially believed it had all the necessary backup documents, but later found that some important documents were missing or incomplete. The formalities prompted the company and the FAA to develop a data backup control and verification program according to the documents. The forwarder told the FAA that 50 employees evaluated 63,000 repair documents in 1

5 languages.

United States. Freight forwarders usually ship overseas used aircraft, but under certain circumstances they purchase foreign aircraft to fill in gaps in their fleet.

The aircraft focus on 88 used jets that Southwest has added to its fleet of more than 750 aircraft from 2013. Previously, the used aircraft were flown by airlines in countries such as Canada, China, Russia, Argentina and Turkey , At this time, 41 of these aircraft were inspected from bow to stern, their papers were reviewed and were deemed to fully comply with all FAA rules and requirements. Another nine jets are inspected.

The lack of complete documentation for the remaining 38 foreign aircraft has attracted the attention of the FAA inspectors and DOT Inspector General. An experienced maintenance inspector expressed concern in 2018 and the problem re-emerged this summer when local FAA managers heard more complaints from inspectors about the lack of maintenance records, according to people who were briefed on the discussions.

More recently, the FAA's efforts to call on the Southwest to resolve open questions have aroused Congressional interest. The issue of undocumented maintenance was highlighted in preliminary findings made by the Inspector General's staff weeks before the FAA, which prompted the agency last month to take action and explain the situation to various House and Senate bodies.

The FAA threatened to ground southwestern end of October 38

Boeing Co.

737 jets are still waiting for comprehensive inspections by Southwest. This refers to potential risks resulting from "undocumented or improper repairs". This is evident from a letter from the Wall Street Journal-audited Southwest agency. On October 29, and signed by John Posey, head of the FAA's Dallas office, which oversees the Southwest, the letter said that if the agency's concerns were not adequately addressed, "the FAA can take corrective action up to and including grounding."

The FAA Must I agree that a plane can safely fly in the US, and maintenance records are used in this determination. On 21 November last year, after the inspection of some maintenance records of the aircraft was a matter of concern, the FAA briefly suspended 32 Southwest aircraft until certain inspections were performed, as the documentation indicates.

Southwest answered questions from the Journal of The Company has fully complied with the long-term, improved inspection program for older 737 models purchased overseas and found that none of the discrepancies endanger flight safety.

In an email, a spokeswoman denied that the FAA's letter threatened to ground the planes. She said that the FAA had requested additional information from the southwest, and the airline had responded to the Agency's requests for a reassessment of the highest priority risks within the timeframe specified in the letter.

Shawn Jensen, Southwest Director, responded to the FAA letter in October According to the airline, the issue is more of a paper cramp problem than a security risk. Southwest, he wrote, is taking steps to "reduce the risk of non-compliance, not an increased security risk."

Southwest told the FAA that each of the 38 aircraft has undergone extensive periodic maintenance since joining the airline.

"A small number of repairs have been made to some aircraft but have not been properly classified by the previous owners due to differences in language and repair criteria," the Southwest spokeswoman said.

Late last week, after discussion The Agency allowed the 38 aircraft to continue their passenger service after Southwest agreed to accelerate the required inspections so that all aircraft would be fully audited by the end of January, the persons familiar with the discussions said , The previous deadline was July.

Based on the safety data and analysis provided by the airline, the Agency predicted that the risks of an accident or other serious problem would be small and comparable to those found on Southwest aircraft previously inspected by the airline. according to FAA documents. These previously inspected aircraft were allowed to fly when subjected to a two-year security review, the backup inspection and review program initiated in 2018, when Southwest first disclosed to the regulators the deficiencies found in the inspection of the 88 aircraft. [19659004] The recent dispute over whether the maintenance and repairs were performed and, if so, whether they were properly performed and documented, has not been reported so far. They come from both the Southwest and the FAA, which is struggling with the aftermath of the separate 737 MAX crisis affecting several newer versions of Boeing's most popular aircraft.

Is the Federal Aviation Administration too close to its regulated industry? Following the crash of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia and Ethiopia, the Wall Street Journal is investigating why the FAA is re-examining its aircraft certification process.

An FAA spokesman said the agency had validated certain major repairs and now required more frequent updates to the progress of inspections of the aircraft being used. In an e-mail to some congressional committees at the end of October, the FAA said that the Southwest "is taking our concerns seriously."

When questions about safety-related maintenance and paper works emerged,

Deputy Peter DeFazio

of Oregon, the Democratic chairman of the House Transportation Committee, wrote FAA chief

Steve Dickson

Late last month: "If the FAA can not be absolutely certain that the aircraft are capable of flight, they should not be in the air."

As part of their overall risk assessment, in the week following the October letter from the FAA, Southwest, The Agency said that it had analyzed whether the 38 aircraft had experienced incidents of unusual structural pressures such as a hard landing or too high a weight; Damage caused by ground equipment; or hitting the stern of an aircraft on the tarmac during takeoff and landing. Southwest noted over 1,200 such events, but found that they did not significantly increase the risk of aircraft flying.

In June, the FAA removed three senior managers at the local office overseeing Southwest, after months of growing concern among inspectors, convention workers and others for allegations of careless security enforcement. In addition to reviewing the maintenance of the 38 aircraft, Inspector General of Southwest Transportation Inspectorate last year investigated for failures that could reliably calculate the weight of checked baggage and a range of other operational incidents.

Recent questions from Legislators reflect the difficulties faced by the Southwest, its leaders and the FAA a decade ago. In 2009, Southwest agreed to pay fines of US $ 7.5 million to settle the allegation of operating 46 aircraft on 60,000 flights without carrying out mandatory maintenance checks for possible hull-busting debate over whether the FAA had an inappropriately comfortable relationship with the airlines she monitored, especially the southwest. According to FAA and Southwest employees on Capitol Hill, local FAA officials had allowed Southwest to keep the aircraft operational, although they knew that certain mandatory security checks had not been performed.

Write to Andy Pasztor at [email protected] and Alison Sider at [email protected]

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