Southwest 1380: FAA Oversight and Timing of Inspections in Question

After this week’s Southwest Airlines accident, several groups have come out to slam maintenance practices in the U. S. An NBC News report asks if the FAA waited too long to order inspections of the fan blades of the CFM56-7B engines like the one on Flight 1380. The report says the FAA had been considering these inspections for months and that the FAA had moved too slowly following a similar incident two years ago.

An airline consumer watchdog group and the Transport Workers Union, a union organization that represents mechanics, say that slow action by the FAA is problematic. “Several major airlines previously called for slower implementation of a proposed FAA rule that would require inspections of the type of engines that failed this week,” the NBC report states.

After the incident this week, the FAA release a statement saying it would have an airworthiness directive (AD) requiring non-destructive type testing of the engines fan blades within two weeks. Southwest was one of several airlines pushing back against the inspections related to the 2016 incident saying it would need “18 months to inspect the 732 engines that would be subject to an order.” Some airlines have now said they will begin voluntary inspections of their CFM-56-7B engines without waiting for the AD to be released. To see the NBC news report click here.

Another news report by the New York Daily News says that the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, the union representing aircraft mechanics at Southwest, in the weeks just prior to the incident had cautioned the COO of Southwest that too much of their maintenance was outsourced and that was causing “a degradation of safety.” Some have suggested that the warning came not because of safety concerns but because the airlines’ mechanics were in contract negotiations.

The NYDN report says CFM, the engine’s manufacturer, had proposed safety checks on these engines after a fan blade separated from a Southwest engine in August 2016. CFM did add that the airline had complied with service bulletins issued at that time. Southwest is accelerating its inspections. Watch the accompanying video to see the maintenance crews at work and hear from Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly. To see the NYDN report click here.



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