According to NBC News, months before an airborne accident claimed the life of a Southwest Airlines passenger, the Federal Aviation Administration found that distrust between managers and mechanics at Southwest’s Dallas maintenance base was so bad, FAA investigators feared it could put passengers at risk.
Southwest mechanics told the FAA that Southwest supervisors discouraged mechanics from reporting some aircraft problems and that supervisors questioned mechanics when they found maintenance issues beyond portions of the plane they had been assigned to inspect.
No surprise here. It’s how corporate America rolls.
The FAA concluded that Southwest management’s questioning of mechanics appeared to be, “… a tool used to influence a relaxing of standards, to look the other way, or to gain a degree of approval through a leniency of standards.”
It added: “The result of this pattern is a capitulation of airworthiness and a culture of fear and retribution. Some personnel have resorted to photographing their findings … as a tool to ensure they can prove what they discovered in the event they are questioned by management.”
The FAA’s comments portrayed a broken safety culture inside two of Southwest’s large maintenance operations.
The FAA made its findings six months before a woman, who was on a SWA flight from New York to Dallas, was partially pulled out of a window that had been broken out by flying debris from a malfunctioning engine. She later died at a hospital.
Numerous other safety issues surfaced during NBC’s investigation. It’s pretty clear Southwest could care less.