Dallas, TX –
Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson met Wednesday afternoon with Southwest Airlines executives. She says she left the meeting believing the Federal Aviation Administration bears some responsibility for Southwest planes flying without required inspections.
Congresswoman Johnson is a member of the House Transportation Committee that will hold hearings into Southwest Airlines safety practices next month. She says she met with Southwest founder Herb Kelleher, the airline's CEO and its Vice President of Public Affairs after the executives sat down with members of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Southwest is contesting a proposed FAA fine of $10-million dollars for allowing some 50 planes to continue flying after they missed inspections for possible structural damage.
Congresswoman Johnson says she questions whether the relationship between FAA inspectors and of a former FAA employee now at Southwest played a role in the inspections being skipped.
Cong. Johnson: I do think there is some negligence on the part of the FAA. I think most of the responsibility rests with the FAA. And with an FAA former employee hired by Southwest put in charge it makes me a little suspicious.
Congresswoman Johnson says she'll reserve judgment about the airline's handling of the situation until after the hearings. But she favors legislation that would restrict federal aviation inspectors from hiring on at airlines, where they coordinate safety compliance with former co-workers who have the power to ground unsafe planes.