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Friday, March 7, 2008

Flying unsafe planes

In a report that could scare passengers traveling on the budget carrier, Southwest Airlines, an investigation has revealed that the airline carried thousands of people on aircraft that were technically unsafe, on which mandatory safety checks had not been carried out. This carried on for some planes that were flown for 30 months after mandated Government inspection deadlines had passed; in such cases planes are normally grounded till the inspections have been carried out so that passenger safety is never in threat. And what is even more worrisome is that FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) officials knew about this, and yet did not do anything as this could have affected the flight schedules of the airline:

Documents submitted by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors to congressional investigators allege the airline flew at least 117 of its planes in violation of mandatory safety checks. In some cases, the documents say, the planes flew for 30 months after government inspection deadlines had passed and should have been grounded until the inspections could be completed. The planes were "not airworthy," according to congressional air safety investigators.
"The FAA is taking action against Southwest Airlines for a failing to follow rules that are designed to protect passengers and crew," Nicholas A. Sabatini, the FAA's associate administrator for aviation safety, said in a written statement. Calling it "one of the worst safety violations" he has ever seen, Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minnesota, is expected to call a hearing as soon as possible to ask why the airline put its passengers in danger.

The airline in its response did not seem too bothered at these violations, and stated that this did not seem a flight safety issue. One would have thought that an airline carrying passengers would deem passenger safety the utmost, but maybe thinking that a corporate would put profit second is not realistic.

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