Southwest Airlines Fined $7.5M Failing To Perform Safety Checks

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered Dallas, Texas-based Southwest Airlines to pay a $7.5 million fine for failing to perform safety checks on some of its planes – and that fine may double if the airline fails to follow the FAA’s guidelines.

60,000 Flights Affected

According to a press release on the FAA’s website,, nearly 60,000 Southwest Airlines flights were completed without crew performing mandatory safety checks for fuselage cracks. Forty-six planes, mostly Boeing 737s, carried nearly 145,000 passengers on those flights. Originally $10 million, the FAA only imposed a $7.5 million civil penalty which Southwest can pay in three annual installments of $2.5million. However, that fine could double to $15 million if Southwest doesn’t make several adjustments, including:

  • Increasing the number of on-site technical representatives for heavy maintenance vendors from 27 to 35 people within 30 days.
  • Allowing FAA inspectors improved access to information used for tracking maintenance and engineering activities within 60 days.
  • Designating a management head of Quality Assurance who does not have air carrier certification responsibilities within 90 days.
  • Reviewing its Required Inspection Item (RII) procedures to ensure compliance with FAA rules related to maintenance and identifying more clearly all RII items on its maintenance work instructions, engineering authorizations and task cards within 180 days.
  • Rewriting all FAA-approved manuals within one year.

Luckily, Southwest’s failure to adequately inspect its planes did not result in injuries. However, when injuries do occur, it’s important to know what damages might be available to you.

Available damages in aviation accidents

If you’re injured in an aviation accident, whether it’s the result of a plane crash, an accident in the terminal or on the plane itself, you may be entitled to lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, damages stemming from a wrongful death and more. While the amount of damages depends on the facts and circumstances of each case and whether or not insurance covered any of those expenses, it’s important to understand that recovery in an aviation law case may vary greatly depending on whether you were on a domestic or an international flight.

Make sure that you are adequately compensated for your injuries by contacting an experienced aviation lawyer whose practice focuses in this area of the law.

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