Southwest Grounds Planes: 128 Planes Grounded For Missing Inspections On Hydraulic Systems

Southwest grounds planes after missing inspections of their hydraulic systems. In all, 128 airplanes aren’t flying for Southwest Airlines until those jets meet the required safety standards for commercial travel.

Huffington Post reports that inspectors are doing a quality control of the planes’ rudder in case the main system fails; the hydraulic systems control the rudder.

Ninety flights were canceled on Tuesday. With 128 of Southwest’s planes halted, that’s about one-fifth its fleet.

Southwest Airlines spokeswoman, Brandy King, said the airline realized they missed inspections on some of their airplanes and quickly alerted the federal safety regulators about it. Southwest grounded planes for inspections and began looking at them. The report cites The Wall Street Journal for first reporting on the missed inspections.

King says the missed inspection on Southwest planes was unintentional. She adds that the airline noticed that 128 Boeing 737-700 jets had flown past their inspection requirements on the hydraulic systems, making the correction a number one priority for safety reasons.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman, Lynn Lunsford, says the organization is teaming up with Southwest Boeing. They have “a proposal that would allow the planes to keep flying for a maximum of five days” until inspections are concluded.

Even though Southwest is grounding planes in this inspection, the airline released a statement saying “very minimal impact” will be felt over the canceled flights; the airline has 3,400 flights per day. Grounding so many planes at once equates to several hundred flights being lost.

In an updated report by Skift, King claims a good portion of the missed inspections will be complete by Wednesday.

In 2009, Southwest was fined for missed inspections of “dozens of planes for cracks in the fuselage,” according to Skift. In a settlement reached between Southwest Airlines and the FAA, the airline agreed to pay the administration $7.5 million instead of the $10.2 million penalty fine.

The FAA wanted tougher inspections on some of Southwest’s older 737s in 2011 following a hole burst on one jet in the middle of a flight. The 5-foot hole resulted in an emergency landing at a military base in Arizona.

In a report by the Inquisitr, the FAA wanted to fine Southwest $12 million for failure in complying with safety-related repairs to some of its planes.

In an interesting side note about the Dallas-based airline, Southwest is the largest operator of Boeing 737 jets, totaling 665 of them. The company gets their planes from Boeing and have since 1971. More jets, 259 to be exact, are on order with the manufacturer.

[Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]