I’m trying to figure out exactly what happened with Southwest Airlines flying planes that did not have up-to-date safety inspections.
There seems to be no question that this happened. It also seems that the FAA allowed Southwest to miss inspections. CNN reports:
The [FAA] inspectors say FAA managers knew about the lapse in safety at Southwest, but decided to allow the airline to conduct the safety checks on a slower schedule because taking "aircraft out of service would have disrupted Southwest Airlines’ flight schedule."
The FAA says it has disciplined at least one supervisor. Plus, it’s seeking a $10.2 million civil penalty from Southwest. So … is Southwest to blame for what the FAA let it do?
Maybe there’s a valid argument to be made that Southwest should have known better. This is serious stuff. Southwest has an all-737 fleet, and those aircraft need to be inspected for known problems with the rudders and cracking of the fuselage.
But who’s going to fine the FAA?