Southwest Is Flying Planes That Missed Inspections

FAA is OK with it, because inspections were for a backup system
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2015 12:21 PM CST
Southwest Is Flying Planes That Missed Inspections
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 takes off from Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Fla.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Southwest notified the FAA yesterday of a serious oversight—it failed to conduct a mandatory inspection of some of its planes' rudder systems. Here's the weird part: The inspections still aren't done, but the planes are still flying. The FAA granted the airline an unusual waiver to keep them going for a maximum of five days while the inspections on the Boeing 737-700s are finished, reports the Wall Street Journal. The inspections involve a backup hydraulic system, one that would be used to control the rudder only if the primary system fails.

The FAA says it concluded that the risk to air travelers is small "and agreed that the airline could continue to operate the planes during this short interim," reports Bloomberg. Major hassles would ensue at airports across the country if Southwest had to immediately ground nearly 130 jets, about one-fifth of its fleet. As it is, the airline has had to cancel about 100 flights over the last two days as it tries to get the two-hour inspections completed, but that number would be far higher had the FAA cracked down harder. (More Southwest Airlines stories.)

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