The national director of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), Bret Oestreich, has sent a letter to Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly regarding the “culture of fear” at the airline. The letter is now published on the AMFA website.
In the letter, Oestreich implores Kelly to become more involved saying, “Your personal involvement in restoring Southwest’s safety culture is long past due.” He also questions FAA oversight. The letter says, “According to Public Record, Southwest Airlines (and AirTran) has been fined for violations 45 times by the FAA and OSHA since 2012, and 291 times since 2000.
These statistics are alarming. Nonetheless, our AMTs know, and the DOT’s Office of Inspector (“OIG”) has recognized, that the FAA is just scratching the surface with respect to the issue of declining maintenance standards at Southwest:
[R]ecent events have raised concerns about FAA’s safety oversight, particularly for Southwest Airlines, one of the largest part 121 carriers in the United States. On April 17, 2018, Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 suffered an engine failure and debris penetrated the aircraft cabin, resulting in the first U.S. passenger fatality in over 9 years.
Indeed, the OIG recently received numerous hotline complaints regarding a number of operational issues at Southwest Airlines, such as alleged pilot training deficiencies, which raise further concerns about the FAA’s oversight of the carrier.”
AMFA says it has addressed the concerns multiple times with the company and that “Southwest has either ignored these good faith warnings or, worse still, denigrated our efforts.” An asdditional concern is that Southwest has “the fewest mechanics per aircraft of any major carrier,” according to the letter.
Oestreich writes, “AMFA will not stand idly by as our members are bullied, harassed, or threatened into taking shortcuts in maintenance. We will not sacrifice safety in favor of revenue.”
Read the full letter here.