Southwest Airlines, the third-largest in the United States based on the number of passengers carried, has found itself in hot water after the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced an investigation into the airline’s systemic failure to properly record the total weight of baggage carried by jets. News of the U.S. FAA’s investigation comes from a report published by The Wall Street Journal yesterday.
Information used to form a basis for the investigation comes from a 12-month-long probe into the processes by which Southwest Airlines’ employees calculate the total weight of checked bags’ weight and how they handle that luggage after it’s been checked up to the point of airliner takeoff. Countless discrepancies were found in luggage weights as compared to the calculations made by pilots. These calculations are used to determine the takeoff weights of airliners. The aforementioned probe began in Feb. 2018.
So far, the FAA has opted against imposing fines, fees, and other forms of punishment on Southwest Airlines. This information comes directly from Brandy King, an official spokesperson for Southwest Airlines.
The aforementioned discrepancies in luggage weights carried by Southwest Airlines’ airliners were as small as 25 pounds, though they ranged upwards of 1,000 pounds, which indicates major calculating and tracking problems.
Failing to accurately calculate the weight of baggage carried by airliners can result in serious consequences. Airliner pilots need to have accurate figures of such information because it affects those airliners’ recommended takeoff speeds, the velocities at which they cruise during flights, how well they can be maneuvered, and how well landing gear can hold up to stress incurred upon impact with landing strips.
Officials within the ranks of Southwest Airlines have disputed the potential problems caused by such luggage weight calculation discrepancies with relevant government agencies’ inspectors since the FAA began its investigation.
The FAA currently has an active Letter of Investigation, a legal document that is handled by the FAA as a means to record problems within aviation companies’ operations and share concerns related to the potential consequences caused by such problems with those entities.
Since The Wall Street Journal broke the news yesterday, on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, no news agencies have been able to garner responses to questions that are relevant to the investigation from the FAA. An official statement also has not been released by the Federal Aviation Administration since news broke of the government agency’s investigation into the baggage-handling procedures of Southwest Airlines.