The FAA today approved a plan that would require Southwest Airlines to replace unapproved parts installed on about 50 Boeing 737s–roughly 10 percent of its fleet–and for the aircraft to undergo inspections until the airline completes the fixes. The airline already has replaced parts on 30 other airplanes.
Republic Airways, on July 31, completed its acquisition of Midwest Airlines, then won a bid last month for Frontier Airlines after Southwest Airlines withdrew when talks between the airlines’ pilots for a new labor deal stalled. Republic paid $6 million in cash and has issued a $25 million five-year note convertible to Republic stock at $10 a share for Midwest. It bid $108.75 million for Frontier.
The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched investigators to examine a Southwest Airlines jet after it made an emergency landing in West Virginia yesterday after a hole opened in the body of the airplane and the cabin lost pressure.
The FAA’s proposed guidelines addressing crew fatigue on ultra-long-range flights by “flag carriers” (OpSpec A332) contain “substantive improvements” that the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) supports, but the trade association retains its “technical objection” to the crew complements referred to in the draft OpSpec.
The FAA yesterday reached a settlement with Southwest Airlines that reduces the civil penalty it proposed to levy against the carrier on March 6 last year from $10.2 million to $7.5 million. The agency proposed the penalty after it found that Southwest operated 46 airplanes on 59,791 flights without performing mandatory inspections for fuselage fatigue cracking.
US airlines continued to post improved on-time performance numbers in September—the third straight month they did so and beating the mark they set last year, according to Portland, Ore.-based FlightStats.com. The year-to-date numbers tell a similar story about the seven largest U.S.
The FAA has reached agreements with four U.S. airlines to fund in-cockpit runway safety systems, in this case electronic flight bags (EFBs), in exchange for the operational data those systems would generate. Under the plan, the FAA will provide $600,000 each to SkyWest Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, US Airways and Southwest Airlines to invest in the new technology in airplanes they’ll fly into and out of 21 testbed airports.
The FAA’s approach to Airworthiness Directive (AD) compliance was a significant feature in the Department of Transportation’s Independent Review Team report on “Managing Risks in Civil Aviation.” The team was formed after the FAA suffered what the report called a “perfect storm” earlier this year during AD compliance issues with Southwest Airlines and American Airlines.
The House of Representatives on July 22 unanimously approved a bipartisan aviation bill that tightens the FAA’s airline maintenance oversight procedures and creates an Aviation Safety Whistleblower Investigation Office.
Speaking at this year’s EAA AirVenture, acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell defended the track record of various agency-industry cooperative safety and inspection programs against Congressional criticism and promised to crack down on those who abuse rules governing amateur-built aircraft.