Aviation Watchdog Investigating FAA Oversight of Southwest Airlines
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The US Department of Transportation announced on Wednesday it will be opening an investigation into the Federal Aviation Association’s safety oversight of Southwest Airlines in the wake of the carrier’s fatal incident on flight 1380.
Matthew E. Hampton, the DOT’s Assistant Inspector General for Aviation Audits, announced the DOT’s plans for an audit of the FAA later in June because of several suspicions regarding its relationship with Southwest Airlines. These suspicions rise from the connection between the flight 1380 engine failure that resulted in one passenger’s death and the similarities in a 2016 Southwest Airlines engine incident.
Both incidents saw an engine explode followed by a cabin depressurization, forcing an emergency landing. The 2016 episode, however, did not result in any injuries or fatalities.
“It is unclear what actions the carrier took to manage the risk to prevent a future failure,” Hampton said in his letter.
While the engine failures are one impetus for the audit, inspectors will be reviewing several safety practices, including everything from the FAA’s oversight of how pilots set their flight controls to how the airline records the number of bags in the aircraft cargo hold.
“We have a very transparent and professional relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration,” Southwest told the Wall Street Journal. “Our absolute goal at Southwest is to meet or exceed every requirement of our Safety Management System, and we believe we are held accountable to that goal by the FAA.”
TPG reached out to Southwest for more information but did not hear back by time of publication.
The DOT wants to inspect the FAA’s oversight of the airline’s safety management system because in addition to the 2018 and 2016 engine incidents, Hampton said they received a hotline complaint on several operational issues, including alleged pilot training deficiencies. Two inside sources also told WSJ that the watchdog body will be investigating accusations that FAA officials were too cozy with managers at Southwest.
“We welcome the OIG’s examination of the FAA’s oversight of Southwest Airlines,” the FAA said in a statement Thursday morning. “The FAA’s oversight system is designed to identify potential risks before they become serious problems and ensure that corrective action is taken. The process is dynamic and requires that the FAA, and the airlines we oversee, constantly strive for safety improvements.”
Earlier this year, the DOT Inspector General announced a similar audit into the FAA’s handling of both Allegiant and American Airlines’ maintenance records.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees