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Press Release: FAA Substantiates Yet Another Whistleblower Complaint Against Southwest Airlines
Apr 27, 2020

For Immediate Release


Bret Oestreich, National Director


CENTENNIAL, Colo. – April 27, 2020 – By letter dated April 15, 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) responded to yet another Southwest Airlines mechanic whistleblower action with the agency’s determination that

“a violation of an order, regulation, or standard of the FAA related to air carrier safety occurred.  Accordingly, the FAA is taking appropriate corrective and/or enforcement action.  Our office will monitor these actions until complete.”

This most recent confirmation of safety lapses at Southwest follows a long line of AIR 21 whistleblower cases – over twenty in the last few years – that have confirmed non-compliance with federal aviation standards at SWA maintenance stations located in Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

The FAA’s responses to these whistleblower actions have included the following findings:

  • Southwest’s coercive environment “influences the way maintenance is accomplished in all forms:  documentation, troubleshooting, completion of work, inspections, technical support and training.”
  • Interrogation of mechanics by Southwest management “appears as a tool used to influence a relaxing of standards, to look the other way …..  The result of this pattern is a capitulation of airworthiness and a culture of fear and retribution.”
  • The maintenance work environment at one station was characterized by “fear of threats or reprisal.  This ultimately leads to a degraded level of safety.”
  • Southwest was engaged in practices that violated 14 CFR § 119.65(d)(3) by pressuring Aviation Maintenance Technicians to not document maintenance discrepancies.

These findings must be evaluated against the backdrop of a report, dated February 11, 2020, by the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) sharply criticizing the FAA for its failure to effectively oversee Southwest operations.   The OIG highlights that a Southwest engine failure resulted in the first U.S. passenger fatality in over nine (9) years.

The OIG’s report confirms what we all know:  that the above-referenced FAA’s findings are just the tip of the iceberg.  Southwest has the fewest mechanics per aircraft of any major airline, so your job is particularly tough.  We salute your efforts in the certain knowledge that it is you, and not Southwest management, that keeps our passengers safe.


The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association is a craft oriented, independent aviation union. AMFA represents licensed and unlicensed technicians and related employees actively involved in the aviation industry. These technician and related employees work directly on aircraft and/or components, support equipment, and facilities. AMFA is committed to elevating the professional standing of technicians and to achieving progressive improvements in wages, benefits, and working conditions of the skilled  craftsmen and women it represents. For more information about AMFA visit www.amfanational.org.


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