Southwest Grounds 38 Planes After FAA Probe - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Southwest Grounds 38 Planes After FAA Probe

(CBS/AP) Southwest Airlines says it grounded 38 planes Tuesday night in the wake of its recent admission that it had missed required inspections of some planes for structural cracks.

Southwest said in a statement that the decision to remove aircraft from service resulted in about four percent of Wednesday's Southwest flights being canceled. Because weather conditions were good, the airline's decision caused minimal schedule disruptions and flights were running over 90 percent ontime.

The move comes as Southwest faces a $10.2 million civil penalty for continuing to fly nearly 50 planes after the airline admitted that it had missed required inspections of the planes.

All of the aircraft are Boeing 737s, which is the only jet Southwest flies.

A Southwest spokeswoman told CBS News affiliate KTVT that the grounded jets are in several locations, including Dallas' Love Field, and a Southwest maintenance base in Chicago.

The spokeswoman would not specify what inspectors are looking for, but she did say they are not looking for possible structural damage.

Southwest also put three employees on leave after being notified of the penalty by the Federal Aviation Administration.

In a statement released yesterday following an internal investigation, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly explained the airline's actions, saying he was "concerned with some of our findings as to our controls over procedures within our maintenance airworthiness directive and regulatory compliance processes."

"We have been a safe company," Kelly added, "I believe we are a safe company. I am committed to making sure we become safer still."
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