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News Analysis: Southwest Suspended, FAA Employees Reassigned

FAA Southwest AirlinesFollowing the recent Southwest Airlines and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) scandal, the airline grounded as many as 42 jets and suspended three employees who allegedly knew that planes being flown were not adequately inspected for possible structural flaws, as reported by Reuters.

The FAA last week proposed a record fine of $10.2 million against Southwest for allegedly failing to complete required safety regulations. Even though the airline said that no safety on any aircraft was compromised, congressional investigators said the planes should have been grounded.

Southwest stated that the FAA and Boeing gave it clearance to fly the aircraft during the time it completed safety inspections. The FAA reassigned two of its senior officials as a result of this matter.

As reported by USA Today, the United States can boast of the safest air system, and the FAA plans to maintain that safety, but the breakdown between Southwest and the FAA resulted in the failure to ground potentially unsafe aircraft.

At this moment in the investigation, at least one FAA inspector is believed to have deliberately averted the enforcement of inspections.

Robert A. Sturgell, pilot and acting administrator of the FAA, said the FAA inspector’s actions were “wrong and completely inexcusable.”

Last year, the more than 2,000 inspectors conducted over 200,000 inspections, and Sturgell plans to keep the U.S. ’s aviation industry the “most efficient and safest aviation system in the world.”

Today, Southwest’s flights have begun to resume fully normal operations after quick maintenance fixes for the 44 affected aircraft.

Related Links: USA Today, Airwise, CNN, USA Today blog

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