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The FAA reassigns senior executives at the Southwest Airlines office



The federal aviation administration removed three top managers in the supervising office

Southwest Airlines
Co.

According to people familiar with the matter, against the background of alleged negligent enforcement by the whistleblowers and various subsequent government inquiries.

The Chief Inspector of the Department of Transport has looked at some of the safety issues for many months. , including failures by the airline to document the maintenance of more than 100 of its airplanes. Other parts of the probe focus on failures to reliably calculate the weight of registered luggage and dangerous landing incidents in which an airplane hit a wing on an asphalt road and another flew out of the lane in violent weather. the number of such operational and supporting helicopters from the Southwest has been recently, although a person who knows the details has said that these studies have had no impact on staff movements. These transfers, which were also triggered by allegations that managers were avenging inspectors against the safety of violation alerts, were revealed to FAA officials on Tuesday, these people said.

A spokesman for the FAA declined to comment on personnel issues, but in a statement proposed management was tied to long-standing frictions and disputes in the office stemming from various complaints of whistleblowers. The spokeswoman said the agency takes serious allegations of safety and revenge surveillance while "working continuously to improve the overall work of the FAA to fulfill our critical safety mission."

"To comply with these principles, we take action needed when needed "

A spokesman for Southwest said he was fully co-operating with the Inspector General's investigation. "We remain absolutely confident that our maintenance procedures ensure the airworthiness of our aircraft," she said. Employees who were re-appointed include Carroll Hebert, an office manager and two of his lieutenants in charge of operations and maintenance. Mr. Hebert did not respond immediately to an email request for a comment. The three governors have been replaced on a temporary basis; Appointment of permanent substitutions may take months. The Union declined to comment.

The change of staff, which came into effect at the weekend and was announced to FAA officials in Dallas's office yesterday morning, follows months of escalation of controversies ̵

1; some of them public – in the control of the service.

Among the issues under the supervision of the Chief Inspector and the staff at the FAA headquarters is a widespread mistake in calculating the total weight of the checked bags loaded on each Southwest flight, according to government officials and internal agency documents. This investigation is the subject of a previous report by the Wall Street Journal

The Civil Aviation Inspection, documents show that systemic and significant errors in employee calculations and baggage handling have been detected, leading to potential inconsistencies when pilots calculate the weights on take-off. While on several occasions the FAA found that the load was more than 1,000 pounds in excess of what the airline had indicated, Southwest said its system had a minimal risk to passengers. In the past, the carrier stated that it had cooperated fully with the FAA and voluntarily reported safety concerns, as a Southwest spokeswoman called to talk to the agency as part of a "routine dialogue." in new baggage counting procedures by the end of 2019

Inspectors-General investigators gather information and interview inspectors on luggage and other issues last year and are expected to issue a detailed report on FAA surveillance in the Southwest from the start by 2020, according to some people familiar with the process.

Officially called the FAA Certificate Management Office, which monitors the Southwest, the same part of the agency has been at the center of significant contradictions more than a decade ago when Congress investigators found that Local Agents Managers allowed the airline to continue to fly tens of thousands of passengers on nearly two dozen aircraft carrying out mandatory structural checks. Public anger has prompted the agency and legislators to renew the FAA's mission to focus only on safety oversight by removing its previous responsibilities for aviation promotion.

This time, such debates on policy and governance priorities have once again woken up the office, creating a person familiar with details called the "toxic environment," shattering control over inspectors who oppose the changing, less punitive approach of agency to oversight.

Write to Andy Pastor at andy.pasztor@wsj.com and Alison Sider at alison.sider@wsj.com


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