$12 million Fine Proposed by FAA Against Southwest Airlines

A $12 million civil fine has been proposed by the government against Southwest Airlines for not complying in three different cases with the safety regulations that are related to repairs of the jetliners, Boeing 737.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday that Southwest made "extreme makeover" alterations starting from 2006 to waive the cracking of aluminum skin on 44 of the jetliners.

The FAA said that an investigation showed that Aviation Technical Services Inc. of Everett, Washington which is the contractor for Southwest, did not follow the proper procedures which are there for replacing the fuselage and other work on the jetliners. The agency said that all the work was performed in the supervision of Southwest Airlines.

The statement also said that Southwest put the planes back to service in the year 2009 even when they did not comply with the regulations. The FAA said that it approved the repairs of the planes later after Southwest gave the proper documentation which said that the repairs met all the safety standards.

A notice period of one month has been given to Southwest to respond to the proposed fine, which happens to be the second-largest fine that FAA has ever put against any airline. The largest fine that was proposed was of $24.2 million against the American Airlines in August 2010.

During the investigation, it was also found by FAA that workers of the Aviation Technical Services applied sealant under the new skin panels but they did not install fasteners in all holes of the rivets in a fast enough manner in order for the sealant to be effective.

"This could have resulted in gaps between the skin and the surface to which it was being mounted. Such gaps could allow moisture to penetrate the skin and lead to corrosion", FAA said.