March 8, 2008 | Mark Paradies

An announcement to Southwest Frequent Fliers

As a follow-up to the blog posting about the FAA fine of $10.2 million, Here is a memo that was sent to all Southwest Frequent Fliers:

Southwest Airlines: We take Safety Seriously

You may have heard that Southwest Airlines was fined by the FAA regarding recent aircraft inspections. First and foremost, we want to assure you this was never and is not a safety of flight issue.

From our inception, Southwest Airlines has maintained a rigorous Culture of Safety—and has maintained that same dedication for more than 37 years. It is and always has been our number one priority to ensure the Safety of every Southwest Customer and Employee. “We’ve got a 37-year history of very safe operations, one of the safest operations in the world, and we’re safer today than we’ve ever been,” said Southwest CEO Gary Kelly.

Receipt of the FAA letter of penalty gives us the chance to present the facts which we feel will support our actions taken in March 2007. The FAA penalty is related to one of many routine inspections on our aircraft fleet involving an extremely small area in one of the many overlapping inspections. These inspections were designed to detect early signs of skin cracking.

Southwest Airlines discovered the missed inspection area, disclosed it to the FAA, and promptly reinspected all potentially affected aircraft in March 2007. The FAA approved our actions and considered the matter closed as of April 2007.

The Boeing Company has stated its support of Southwest’s aggressive compliance plan. Southwest acted responsibly and the safety of the fleet was not compromised, Boeing said.

Former National Transportation Safety Board Inspector-in-Charge Greg Feith said after a review of the available data and information that it’s apparent that there was no risk to the flying public in March 2007 while Southwest Airlines performed their program to re-inspect the small area of aircraft fuselages identified.

Southwest consistently maintains a Leadership role in developing maintenance programs for the Boeing 737 aircraft.

As always, we commit to keeping you informed. Please check for periodic updates.

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