Airline To Pay FAA For Recalling Inspector


Image: Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines made an agreement with the FAA to reimburse the agency for recalling one of its furloughed examiners during the partial government shutdown, according to The Wall Street Journal. The arrangement allowed the examiner to perform the final safety inspection signoffs needed for three new Southwest Boeing 737 MAX jets to enter service. The agreement, which amounted to $3,150 and three hours of the examiner’s time, was worked out between the airline and the FAA prior to the shutdown.

“The FAA and Southwest entered into a reimbursable agreement to provide minimal time to complete aircraft certification services,” an FAA spokesman told the Journal. “These services were completed only after meeting immediate operational safety needs.” The spokesman also said that the majority of the work had been completed before the shutdown.

Although the agreement appears to be legal, concerns were raised that it might have allowed Southwest an unfair advantage over competitors. That concern is shared the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union, which the inspector assigned the job contacted for guidance. Other airlines reportedly tried to set up similar agreements and were refused, although the extent of the work that would have been required in those cases is unknown.