Federal regulators said Thursday they will seek a civil penalty of $10.2 million — the largest ever — against Southwest Airlines Co. for failing to inspect older planes for cracks and then flying them before inspections were done.
The FAA said Southwest operated nearly 60,000 flights in 2006 and 2007 using 46 planes that had missed inspections for possible fatigue-related cracking on the fuselage areas.
The airline flew another 1,451 flights with the same planes in March 2007, even after discovering that it had failed to conduct the required inspections, the FAA charged. All but $200,000 of the proposed penalty dealt with those later flights.
Southwest said six of the planes had small cracks that required repairs.
The agency had ordered airlines in September 2004 to conduct inspections of some areas of the fuselage on some older models of Boeing 737 aircraft once every 4,500 flights.
Note: Southwest is a major carrier at Houston’s Hobby airport!