Southwest Airlines was forced to ground almost 130 Boeing 737 aircrafts because the company missed required federal inspections of the airplanes.
However, what may be even more disconcerting to air travelers is that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted the airline permission to continue to fly those planes for an additional five days while Southwest scrambles to complete those maintenance checks.
The aircrafts that were grounded were overdue for inspections on their standby hydraulic systems. This system is the backup to the primary hydraulic systems. On the day that the airline notified the FAA, the airline pulled those planes out of service, which caused the cancellation of approximately 90 flights.
In a released statement, the FAA said the airline had notified them “that it had missed some required inspections on the standby rudder system for 128 of its Boeing 737 aircraft. The airline voluntarily removed these aircraft from service while the FAA works with Boeing and Southwest to evaluate a proposal that would allow the airline to continue flying the planes until the inspections are completed over the next few days.” These inspections take about two hours per plane.
Southwest Airlines has had multiple safety issues that have resulted in millions of dollars in fines by the FAA. Last summer, the agency fined the airline $12 million for three separate issues. Southwest is challenging that fine in court. And several years ago, the airline paid almost $8 million in federal fines for missing inspections for fuselage metal fatigue.
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