Southwest Airlines Co. may have to pay a $12 million penalty to the U.S. government for operating "numerous flights" in 2009 after being notified that repairs to its airplanes didn't live up to federal regulations.
The repairs to the aluminum skin of the planes were done by a Southwest contractor, Everett, Washington-based Aviation Technical Services Inc., according to a statement today by the Federal Aviation Administration. Under U.S. law, airlines are responsible for repairs made by other companies.
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The maintenance in question was designed to eliminate potential cracks on 44 of the airline's Boeing Co. 737s. The FAA gave Dallas-based Southwest 30 days to respond to the proposed fine.
"Safety is our top priority, and that means holding airlines responsible for the repairs their contractors undertake," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the statement. "Everyone has a role to play and a responsibility to ensure the safety of our transportation system."
The FAA often lowers penalties after negotiating with airlines.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Levin in Washington at alevin24bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Romaine Bostick at rbostickbloomberg.net Elizabeth Wasserman