The following statement was just issued regarding Southwest Airline's continued internal maintenance audit.
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CONTINUES INTERNAL INVESTIGATION AND AUDIT
Airline Makes the Decision to Temporarily Remove 38 Aircraft
from Scheduled Service
DALLAS - March 12, 2008 - Yesterday, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said the airline is taking action on preliminary findings of its own internal investigation into allegations that it violated 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 and all of its own maintenance programs, policies, and procedures.
During last night's review by Southwest of its maintenance records, 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. Southwest immediately began reinspecting those aircraft. A total of 44 aircraft were affected-one was already retired, five were in maintenance for scheduled checks, and the remaining 38 were removed from scheduled service.
Southwest's decision to remove aircraft from service resulted in approximately four percent of today's Southwest flights being canceled. Due to good weather conditions, the decision caused minimal schedule disruptions and the airline is running more than 90 percent ontime.
A portion of the aircraft have been inspected, cleared, and returned to service. The airline expects to have all of these aircraft inspected by early this evening. The ongoing internal review of Southwest's maintenance programs, policies, and procedures could potentially create other operational changes if the airline needs to swap or reroute aircraft as the internal investigation and audit unfolds.
"Again, we are mindful that during Southwest's 37-year proud history, we have safely transported the population of the United States-every man, woman, and child-four and a half times over. This is a fact. We have been a safe Company. I believe we are a safe Company. I am committed to making sure we become safer still," said Southwest CEO Gary Kelly.