FAA reassigns Dallas-area managers in midst of safety enforcement probe

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The Federal Aviation Administration has reassigned three senior managers from its Dallas-area Southwest Airlines oversight office in the wake of a safety enforcement investigation.

The inspector general’s office for the U.S. Department of Transportation has for many months been looking into allegations by federal whistleblowers of hazardous landings, lapsed maintenance documentation and inconsistent calculation of baggage weights on Southwest aircraft, according to a Wall Street Journal story. 

Unnamed sources told the Journal an office manager and two of his employees responsible for operations and maintenance had retaliated against whistleblowing safety inspectors, the story said. Sources said whistleblower complaints had created friction in the Southwest office.

The Federal Aviation Administration began looking at baggage weight reporting in February, the Journal reported, and several other congressional investigations into Southwest operations have been launched.

The FAA investigation documents showed significant and systemic weight miscalculations. In several cases Southwest aircraft took off carrying more than 1,000 pounds of baggage above what the airline reported, the story said.

Southwest has said its baggage calculation system poses little risk to passengers. 

The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, the AFL-CIO union representing safety inspectors nationwide, has complained to the FAA and congressional staffers about alleged retaliation against inspectors, sources told the Journal.

The inspector general is expected to issue its report on FAA oversight of Southwest in early 2020, the story said.

 

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