The decision by Southwest Airlines to withdraw the planes from the routes they operate because of impending structural technicalities has caught the industry players by surprise as such a move was least anticipated. Such moves can only be initiated when an airline is buoyed by regulatory directions or when the manufacturer of such airbuses recommends their removal from service. Southwest Airlines obviously flouted the two conditions that have to be met before an airline ground its planes because the manufacturer of its brand of planes Boeing Company was not aware of the action they took. Before an airline withdraws its planes from service, it should contact the plane manufacturers and this can be due to mechanical or structural problems. Furthermore, the regulators, in this case the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), did not give their input into that issue (Martin et al, 2011). FAA supervises all aspects of civil aviation in the US and before a plane is withdrawn or introduced into service, its approval must be sought (FAA, 2010). This article endeavors to critique an article that featured the decision by Southwest Airlines to ground a number of their planes.
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Even as the government tries to establish what might have necessitated Boeing 737 jet to rip open in the air in the recent past claiming a reasonable number of passengers on board, Southwest Airlines undertook to cancel a number of their flights with a view to carrying inspection on the air carriers. This bold move can set a bad or good precedent in the industry. Bad precedent in the sense that certain airlines may try to justify cancellation of their flights without following due process by citing issues pertaining to inspection of their plains. It can also set good precedent because safety of the passengers will come first and the issue of following the laid down requisites even when there is potential danger to human life will be a thing of the past. This will allow airlines to shape their own destiny without any due influence from any quarter. Institutions will also be put to task on the kind of opinion they express. This includes government regulatory authorities and the manufacturers of airbuses. This is evident in the resolve by the Southwest maintenance and engineering team manager to subject the Boeing Company officials to a series of questions just before they undertook to carry out the maintenance exercise. The management of their aircraft manufacturer could not comprehend how a gash resembling a paper cut could be found on a plane that has hardly lasted for fifteen years since it was manufactured when the chief engineer engaged them in conference call. This shows how negligent the institutions that are trusted with manufacturing planes can get to an extent of not being able to respond to a very glaring mistake. This is absolute ineptitude magnified by their admitting that they never expected such a thing to happen. This is a defeatist response bearing in mind that Boeing has single handed predicted when planes were due for inspection and when they ought to undergo repair when they have become fatigued. The ripping open of Boeing plane that claimed over 115 passengers was due to system breakdown between the government regulators, the aircraft manufacturer, and the airlines. This system breakdown has necessitated the inability by concerned institutions to keep the aging planes safe. The aircraft manufacturers have as a result decided to remain stymied. The regulatory authorities are consequently unaware of what they are supposed to do. Southwest airlines faced with tough options of whether to ground or not to ground a number of 737 jet flight on grounds of structural uncertainties settle on the former option to carry out inspections. The issue of delay of flights does not bother them. Safety is their number one priority. Financial gains are secondary to them despite the fact that they are doing business in capitalist market structure where profit is the ultimate goal of any business enterprise. Cancelling over 620 flights and delaying over 2700 others is not a decision any business enterprise can effect unless they are so concerned about their brand and how the public perceive it. The bold steps that Southwest initiated will provide a basis upon which companies can handle complex safety hazards in the coming days if they were faced with similar problems. It is not prudent to wait until you are given a nod to facilitate a process that directly impact on lives of passengers especially when management knows there are technical problems that require either repair or inspection. It is evident that when the three bodies: the airline, the regulatory authorities, and the aircraft manufacturers are allowed to undertake their statutory factions concurrently, the time taken to resolve issues of safety can be unnecessarily longer. It is prudent that one party be allowed to implement its duties especially when its activities are done for public good. Bureaucracy only exposes passengers to accidents that claimed over 115 lives.
FAA. (2010). FAA Regulations.
Martin, T. W., Pasztor, A., and Sanders, P. (2011). Southwest’s Solo Flight in Crisis. The Wall Street Journal.