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Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:04 PM

Southwest Airlines fined for operating with incorrect weight&balance calculations

There's no indications that any of the flights SW operated were unsafe, but the potential for this to go wrong and end badly should be obvious

https://www.flightglobal.com/airlines/faa-proposes-to-fine-southwest-airlines-39m-for-incorrect-weight-and-balance-data/136101.article

The FAA has proposed to levy a $3.9 million fine on Southwest Airlines for operating more than 20,000 commercial flights with incorrect weight and balance calculations, potentially putting the safety of the flights at risk.

The violations took place between 1 May and 9 August 2018, on 21,505 flights with 44 aircraft, the FAA alleges. The incorrect data included empty weight, centre of gravity or moment data. This information is used to determine the number of passengers and amount of fuel that can be carried, and how cargo is loaded, the FAA says in a statement on 10 January.

“Southwest’s operation of these aircraft was contrary to the airline’s approved weight-and-balance programme and FAA-issued operations specifications,” the FAA says.

Weight and balance calculations on any aircraft are critical to flight safety. Faulty or incomplete calculations can compromise the aircraft’s structural integrity, and lead to tail strikes upon take-off or control difficulty in the air.

Southwest has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the allegations.

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Reply Southwest Airlines fined for operating with incorrect weight&balance calculations (Original post)
VMA131Marine Jan 2020 OP
gratuitous Jan 2020 #1
The Velveteen Ocelot Jan 2020 #2
lostnfound Jan 2020 #4
lostnfound Jan 2020 #5
bluedigger Jan 2020 #3

Response to VMA131Marine (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:13 PM

1. I know nothing about this

But I will venture a guess that SWA's incorrect calculations allowed them to carry more passengers than correct calculations would have.

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Response to VMA131Marine (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:16 PM

2. How can that happen?

That should all be calculated automatically by dispatch software. Either there are bugs in the software or they are getting incorrect information about passenger numbers and baggage loading from the gate or fuel loads from the fuelers.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 08:37 PM

4. Could also be a significant modification that did it

Or insufficient training of a new employee who manages input of weight and balance information

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 08:45 PM

5. "Missed testing".

https://www.cnn.com/2008/US/03/12/southwest.airlines/

Ohhh. It’s older news referenced in the article but it also mentions missed rudder inspections and fatigue
Rudder inspections?? Fuselage fatigue crack inspections?

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Response to VMA131Marine (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 04:17 PM

3. Sorry about that. My bad.

I flew SW last week and their system ghosted me. They didn't know I was there.

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