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Lufthansa Advised Southwest on Reducing 737 Maintenance Costs: UNITE HERE Calls for FAA Investigation of Program that Touted Fewer Checks

Dépèche transmise le 7 avril 2011 par Business Wire

Lufthansa Advised Southwest on Reducing 737 Maintenance Costs: UNITE HERE Calls for FAA Investigation of Program that Touted Fewer Checks

Lufthansa Advised Southwest on Reducing 737 Maintenance Costs: UNITE HERE Calls for FAA Investigation of Program that Touted Fewer Checks

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In 2005, Lufthansa Technik helped Southwest Airlines migrate their Boeing 737 maintenance program to a new model that promised to be good for business. In a press release, Lufthansa wrote, “The significant reduction in the number of maintenance tasks results in savings of up to 30 percent on maintenance costs, with less time in the hangar corresponding to extra revenue-earning flying hours.”

“flying planes that were not inspected for cracks.”

After a hole ripped through the cabin of a Southwest Boeing 737-300 flying over Arizona last week, such proclamations ought to cause pause.

While the FAA has ordered a review of the agency’s older plane inspections, the union UNITE HERE today called on the FAA to also review how cost-reduction programs such as those pushed by Lufthansa pose risks to proper execution of existing FAA standards.

Last Friday’s incident is not the first cause for concern from Southwest since the airline instituted the revamped maintenance program with Lufthansa Technik. In 2008, the FAA sought civil penalties against Southwest for “flying planes that were not inspected for cracks.” Nicholas A. Sabatini, the agency's associate administrator for aviation safety at the time, said in the Washington Post, "The FAA is taking action against Southwest Airlines for a failing to follow rules that are designed to protect passengers and crew.”

Lufthansa Technik had a long relationship with Southwest, dating at least back to a 2001 project to revamp Southwest’s maintenance management. Lufthansa Technik still listed Southwest as a client as late as 2009.

While Southwest voluntarily grounded 15 percent of its Boeing 737 fleet after the incident, Lufthansa airline said on Monday that it had no plans to ground its own Boeing 737 aircraft. After Friday’s incident, Lufthansa only inspected 3 of its 33 737-300 planes for the metal fatigue that impacted Southwest, on the grounds that these are the only three from the same “series” as the Southwest jet. Lufthansa has the second largest Boeing 737-300 fleet in the world.

Lufthansa Technik is the aviation company’s maintenance subsidiary. In 2010, it accounted for 24 percent of Lufthansa’s total group operating profit.

Business Wire

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