Southwest Airlines has provided details of its response to a 2018 audit by the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The audit looked at the FAA’s safety oversight of the airline.
Southwest Airlines has said that it fully cooperated with the OIG throughout the process, sharing a common goal of strengthening industry and Southwest safety practices.
Within the audit, the OIG took a closer look at a few operational challenges the airline has focused on during the last year, specifically, its Weight and Balance Programme and maintenance records ‘conformity’ work on pre-owned aircraft.
The OIG data collection for the audit concluded towards the end of last year and, since that time, the airline has reportedly made significant progress on both of the two primary operational items mentioned in the report.
With regard to Southwest’s Weight and Balance Program, it has implemented automated baggage scanning and tracking in all of its domestic stations as of December 2019, equipping employees with hand-held scanners to further baggage count accuracy and enhance the integrity of the programme.
As part of this effort, Southwest Airlines invested in more than 3,400 scanners and currently scans more than two million bags per week. Since implementing the scanners, the airline has seen substantial improvement in Weight and Balance Programme accuracy and consistency across the system.
With regard to the conformity issue, the airline’s technical operations team has worked to ensure that each of the 88 pre-owned aircraft cited in the report has undergone a comprehensive physical inspection, from nose to tail, to ensure all maintenance records and repairs are documented.
As part of Southwest’s safety culture, the airline maintains a transparent relationship with the FAA, which includes an FAA-Approved Safety Management System designed to manage and mitigate operational risks and execute safe operating programs and practices.
For more information on OIG, visit oig.dot.gov.