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Feinstein Urges Southwest Airlines to Prioritize Passenger Safety

            Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today wrote to Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly asking what steps the airline is planning to take to improve safety after a Department of Transportation inspector general report found glaring safety violations.

            “I ask that you provide a list of steps Southwest is taking to improve safety as a result of the report’s findings. It is clear from the report that Southwest Airlines has failed to meet the regulatory requirements meant to ensure the safety of its passengers and aircraft,” wrote Senator Feinstein.

            “Specifically, the report found that Southwest operated aircraft in unknown airworthiness conditions and ‘regularly and frequently’ transmitted incorrect aircraft data to its pilots, resulting in over 150,000 flights that were later found to have been insufficiently certified, placing 17.2 million passengers at risk.”

            Full text of the letter is available here and below.

February 13, 2020

Gary C. Kelly
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Southwest Airlines Co.
2702 Love Field Drive
Dallas, Texas 75235

Dear Mr. Kelly:

            I write to express my concern regarding the recent report by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General which details numerous safety violations by Southwest Airlines. I ask that you provide a list of steps Southwest is taking to improve safety as a result of the report’s findings.

            It is clear from the report that Southwest Airlines has failed to meet the regulatory requirements meant to ensure the safety of its passengers and aircraft. Specifically, the report found that Southwest operated aircraft in unknown airworthiness conditions and “regularly and frequently” transmitted incorrect aircraft data to its pilots, resulting in over 150,000 flights that were later found to have been insufficiently certified, placing 17.2 million passengers at risk.

            While it is clear the Federal Aviation Administration must conduct more rigorous oversight, I also believe that Southwest itself must prioritize passenger safety above all else. As a Senator representing California—where your company operates 660 flights from 10 of the state’s airports—this report exposes alarming and unacceptable behavior that endangers my constituents. I expect that both Southwest and the FAA will take active steps to ensure all aircraft are prepared to fly safely.

            Thank you for your attention to this matter, and I look forward to learning more about your efforts to improve safety.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

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