Did FAA Allow Southwest To Fly Unsafe Planes To Avoid Flight Disruptions?

Yesterday the FAA sought $10.2 million in civil damages from Southwest Airlines for neglecting to inspect the fuselages of 46 of its planes. In documents the FAA submitted to Congress, it alleges “the airline flew at least 117 of its planes in violation of mandatory safety checks” over a 30 month period. Southwest says its passengers were never in danger, and that it was an honest oversight that they caught on their own and revealed to the FAA—but (here’s where it gets interesting) an FAA inspector has testified that Southwest continued to fly a plane after he discovered the failed inspections and notified them. Now the U.S. Department of Transportation and Congress are asking why the FAA didn’t ground the planes as soon as they knew about the missed inspections, and a couple of FAA whistleblowers are leaking internal docs to the press. Only after the issue became public knowledge did the FAA seek civil damages.

The [whistleblower] inspectors say FAA managers knew about the lapse in safety at Southwest, but decided to allow the airline to conduct the safety checks on a slower schedule because taking “aircraft out of service would have disrupted Southwest Airlines’ flight schedule.”

According to statements made by one of the FAA inspectors seeking whistle-blower status, a manager at the FAA “permitted the operation of these unsafe aircraft in a matter that would provide relief” to the airline, even though customers were on board.

Laura Brown, an FAA spokeswoman, told CNN that the administration has taken action and that a supervisor who was in charge of overseeing Southwest is “no longer in a supervisory position.”

Here’s Southwest’s response to the civil penalty news:

“The FAA penalty is related to one of many routine and redundant inspections on our aircraft fleet involving an extremely small area in one of the many overlapping inspections. These inspections were designed to detect early signs of skin cracking,” the airline said in a statement Thursday evening.

“Southwest Airlines discovered the missed inspection area, disclosed it to the FAA, and promptly reinspected all potentially affected aircraft in March 2007. The FAA approved our actions and considered the matter closed as of April 2007.”

According to CNN, “the safety inspections ignored or delayed by the airline were mandated after two fatal crashes and one fatal incident, all involving Boeing’s 737, the only type of airplane Southwest flies.”

(Thanks to Tzepish!)

“Records: Southwest Airlines flew ‘unsafe’ planes “ [CNN]
(Photo: Boeing Photo)

Comments

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  1. statnut says:

    Who “took it seriously” first?

  2. SkyeBlue says:

    We all know that the Government agencies that are supposed to be looking out for the safety of the American people are just really looking out for the business interests of the corporations. As an example only have to look at the agency that handles inspecting the meat processing plants to see that.

  3. All I had to read was, “Did FAA Allow…” to know the answer would be yes. That agency is such a pushover. For the airlines only though, not you and I.

  4. sleze69 says:

    Southwest clearly doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    Here in Philadelphia, the US Airways Unions would have kept those damn, meddling inspectors in line.

    Inspector – “That rudder is broken.”

    Union Supervisor – (whispers into Inspector’s ear about his legs)

    Inspector – “uhhh…that rudder may need to be re-inspected…uhh…sooon”

    Union Supervisor – “You got it, pal”

  5. SkokieGuy says:

    [….an FAA inspector has testified that Southwest continued to fly a plane after he discovered the failed inspections and notified them]

    BUT if someone had snuck four ounces of liquid on the plane, it would have been grounded.

  6. DeepFriar says:

    Southwest says its passengers were never in danger

    I’m no aeronautical specialist, but judging by the plane FAILING INSPECTION I would say that statement is not entirely accurate.

  7. majortom1981 says:

    I dont care about what the inspector found (god know how many airplanes in other carriers fail also). I want to know how long after it was found was it fixed?

  8. rolla says:
  9. trujunglist says:

    @BayStateDarren:

    Yeah, it’s pretty funny that the agency meant to protect the people from unsafe flying conditions and supposedly regulate the industry also has a role of promoting and ensuring the success of the airline industry. Hmm, which has deeper pockets?

  10. dweebster says:

    @SkyeBlue: No, as anyone reading THAT thread knows, it came down to two “bad apple” mexicans. Our meat will be pure as the driven snow as soon as we get that border fence up and running…

  11. Tzepish says:

    The [whistleblower] inspectors say FAA managers knew about the lapse in safety at Southwest, but decided to allow the airline to conduct the safety checks on a slower schedule because taking “aircraft out of service would have disrupted Southwest Airlines’ flight schedule.”

    Heaven forbid we disrupt their business, I mean, it’s only human lives on the line, right?

  12. Techno Viking says:

    I believe this is how it works. Someone from somewhere discovers something is not all well within the company or any other place and blames them for their mistake. Government gets involved and heads roll so to speak from the company so that from the people’s point of view we see the government as our friend, yea right? This cloak and dagger does work only because we are too blind to see the real truth. So now real truth. What is it? Real truth is what is hidden. As I said before, company’s heads roll and all is well. In this case, planes are inspected, company officials are fined, and thankfully no one died because we were all flying on old planes that needed inspection. It’s bad enough worrying about toxic toothpaste, now we all have to trust in someone’s incompetence and put our lives when we fly? So here’s the real truth. While government will bash the company in front of our eyes, secretly they will support the company in many ways. It’s just to save the face of the government because we all pay taxes for that. Some one must take a dive, but will get support secretly. This is how the world turns in this century.

  13. jtormey3 says:

    The ersatz impostor federal regulators of aviation have failed this country yet again, with their own arrogance, malice and incompetence. The bottom line on the 60,000-plus Southwest Airlines flights in 2006-2007 and the many cracks in the airplanes used in those flights, called by Rep. Oberstar as “one of the worst safety violations” he has ever seen, is that the FAA let it happen, and thereby callously and malevolently put us all in harm’s way.

  14. Blueskylaw says:

    No longer in a supervisory position?
    Did they promote him and give him a raise? It sure does not say that they fired him.

  15. B says:

    @Blueskylaw: I’m guessing he’s on some sort of indefinite paid suspension, at least untill the hearings are over.

  16. mrbiggsndatx says:

    DING, you are now free to crash across the country! Southwest is changing their seating policy, because you have to die in an organized fashion! They couldnt fix the cracks in the fuselage because the putty needed was over 4 ounces!!

  17. APFPilot says:

    WN Screwed the pooch big time on this one. They are attempting to trivalize it as much as possible but the reality is they missed compliance with an AD then once they noticed they were out of compliance they told the FAA, and then they allowed the airplanes to continue to fly up to 80 cycles before fixing it.

  18. azflyboy says:

    I’m not sure this story is as big a deal is it’s being made out to be, and it sounds to me like the FAA is going after Southwest to cover up the fact that the airline caught the missed inspections before the FAA did.

    What the FAA is angry about is the fact that SWA flew the airplanes for 10 days before they were re-inspected, but both Boeing (who built the airplanes) and Southwest are saying that Southwest contacted Boeing about whether the airplanes could be flown during those 10 days, and Boeing decided that flying the airplanes during that period wouldn’t pose a safety hazard.

    The CNN article is somewhat misleading about the purpose of the inspections. The “fatal incident” CNN mentions is most likely Aloha Airlines flight 243 which took place in 1988 on a 737 that was already 19 years old, and experienced an explosive decompression in flight. That incident wasn’t due to a design flaw in the 737, but did trigger industry wide changes in how airliners are inspected for fatigue cracking.

    The two accidents CNN refers to however, don’t seem to have anything to do with the story. CNN is most likely referring to crashes of United and USAir 737’s in 1991 and 1994 that were eventually traced to a design problem in the 737 rudder system. As a result of those accidents, all 737’s in service were inspected and a program was begun to replace the defective control systems, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fatigue cracking that this story is centered around.

  19. sarahandthecity says:

    @AthleticSupporter: failing to be inspected is different from failing inspection. duh. i have yet to see anyone say anything was actually wrong with the planes.

    not to be an apologist, but this is still like the only airline that’s never had a crash, right?

  20. hwyengr says:

    Hey, if you fly a discount airline, you shouldn’t expect to arrive at your destination safely.

    OR

    The planes didn’t crash, so the inspections weren’t needed.

    OR

    Damn the government for trying to meddle in the business affairs of a corporate enterprise.

    Sorry. Not enough blaming the public or government yet.

  21. mr.anon-a-mouse says:

    Time to dig a little deeper. Southwest Airlines self-disclosed to the FAA that the inspections were missed. Southwest then called Boeing for their input. Boeing agreed that there was no problem with the new inspection schedule, the FAA also concurred, then all the plane were inspected. So where is the problem? How can the FAA fine Southwest after they approved the new inspection schedule. Just to repeat a point .. Southwest self-disclosed to the FAA, then inspected all the plane in accordance with Boeing and the FAA procedures. I just can’t see the problem.

  22. jtormey3 says:

    And to Paula Berg of Southwest Airlines, who says: “…this situation was never and is not now a safety of flight issue”.

    Nonsense, Paula. Cracks in airplanes? Nonsense, Paula. I’ve been around publicists and other entertainment folk for over 20 years, and I have heard better publicity emanating from self-plugging screenwriters on acid.

    And Paula, as for “[t]he FAA approved our actions and considered the matter closed as of April 2007″.

    Nonsense, Paula.

    It’s not “closed”, until WE the PUBLIC say it is closed! Take that back to your superiors for me – and tell them that we are just getting started.

    John J. Tormey III, Esq.
    Quiet Rockland

  23. mikelotus says:

    @AthleticSupporter: read the article, no cracks were found. so no danger. yes they should have been inspected.

  24. mikelotus says:

    @jtormey3: did it say the found and repaired cracks? i don’t see that myself.

  25. ltlbbynthn says:

    Cute, just learned about this in my Aircraft Engines class. I believe the gist of it was an engine must be overhauled every 100 hours, but it could be stretched longer without an inspection if the engine has been meticulously cared for. You still better watch your ass though. I also heard about unqualified mechanics doing these inspections, and FAA guys working in offices now, whereas previously there were several of them down with the airline workers, supervising them.

  26. ltlbbynthn says:

    @mikelotus: @mikelotus: According to radio news reports, they did find cracks on the fuselage of at least one plane.

  27. APFPilot says:

    @ltlbbynthn: That is 100% different from this, that is a Part 91 non turbine operator, this is a 121 air carrier.

  28. nycaviation says:

    It would be nice if the media did some actual reporting on this. Were the planes deemed “not airworthy” by this guy because of specific mechanical problems found when they finally were inspected, or simply because they had not been inspected when they were supposed to have been? I guess I’ll have to search for the actual testimony to find out since everyone is more into sensationalizing than reporting useful facts.

  29. APFPilot says:

    @nycaviation: they were not airworthy because the AD’s hadn’t been complied with. When they finally did the inspections they found fatigue cracks.

  30. smarty says:

    @mikelotus: Read the article, cracks were found on 1 plane. “An FAA inspector at a Southwest Airlines maintenance facility spotted a fuselage crack on one of the airline’s 737s last year, according to the congressional documents. He notified the airline and then began looking through safety records, discovering dozens of planes that had missed mandatory inspection deadlines.”

  31. smarty says:

    In fact, 6 had fatigue cracks (allegedly).
    [www.dallasnews.com]
    SWA flew 59,791 flight cycles without inspection, then discovered they need to get these planes inspected. Then proceeded to have another 1,451 flight cycles with the planes they KNEW required an inspection (allegedly). The link is not from the “media”, but the FAA’s letter to SWA.

    [www.nytimes.com]

  32. rjhiggins says:

    @smarty: I love people who say “Read the article” when it’s obvious they may have read it but didn’t understand it.

    And all you Southwest apologists: I would love to see your comments if the story were exactly the same but said “USAir” instead of Southwest. And then you’ll complain about “media bias.”

  33. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    This whole situation bothers me, and honestly…it’s not just the safety issue.

    You have Southwest saying one thing: The FAA cleared us and the issue was resolved some time ago.

    You then have the FAA saying another: Southwest knowingly did not comply with FAA guidelines and we are now going to fine them $10.2 million and open up and investigation.

    I can understand a slight miscommunication….say they were behind on inspections for a few days or ‘forgot’ to inspect a few plans….you know…mistakes happen.

    But what each of these organizations are saying are pretty much POLAR OPPOSITES! And that scares the hell out of me. Someone’s lying…and it’s a lot more than a cookie that’s missing.

    Perhaps the Senate and Capitol Hill should forget about steroids/Clemens and NFL games/cable television and focus on important issues….like our ailing economy, border security, and serious safety issues in transportation (passenger and freight).

    Note: Any thoughts on the Air Force/EADS deal that Boeing didn’t get? For basically outsourcing our military (or production of some planes for a branch of the military). Has something like this happened before?

  34. APFPilot says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: sure it has, the new marine one helicopter is being built in the UK

  35. jtormey3 says:

    OK.

    According to the above, you’re telling me current media reports indicate that no less than 6 or more commercial jet aircraft potentially carrying hundreds of passengers per trip and sometimes on multiple trips per day – had cracks in them. Had cracks in them. Had cracks in them. And some people knew it, at the time. And the planes had cracks in them. And the flights continued nonetheless.

    Never mind malfeasance. Never mind immorality. If those factual assessments are correct at minimimum, then regarding those that knew THAT SHOULD BE ATTEMPTED FREAKING MURDER!

    (And please, this next part is to the blogosphere at large, not to this panel, which reads principally like a good and thoughtful panel – but rather to the others out there):

    What is WRONG with you non-prosecutorial milque-toasts? When did standing up for citizens’ individual rights and dignity become so politically incorrect to you??!!! When did you start to assume Americans were so weak and unempowered? BECAUSE WE’RE NOT!!!

  36. azflyboy says:

    @ jtormey3
    Fatigue cracks in commercial aircraft are nothing new, and have existed pretty much since the invention of pressurized aircraft. When you take a metal tube and subject it to thousands pressure changes per year, the metal is eventually going to start cracking somewhere.

    Depending on where those cracks are and how big they are, it can be perfectly acceptable and safe to simply stop the crack from spreading and replace the affected part when the aircraft comes in for an inspection.

    If cracks are left alone and not treated, they can become a problem, but none of the articles I have seen about this story indicate that the cracking on the Southwest 737’s was anything to be concerned about, especially when Boeing told Southwest that there was no safety risk to flying the aircraft until they were inspected and repaired.

  37. rjhiggins says:

    So Southwest (and its fanboys) are saying, “Hey, what’s the big deal if we flew at least 117 planes in violation of mandatory safety checks? We didn’t crash, did we?

    Just like the driver saying, “Hey, what’s the big deal if I drove on the freeway with four bald tires in a driving rainstorm? I didn’t crash, did I?”

    Southwest is showing total disregard for the FAA and for public safety. This has nothing to do with media sensationalism: This is the FAA fining an airline $10 million for blatant flaunting of safety rules.

    And a whole bunch of you are giving Southwest a pass, apparently because you think they’re “good guys.”

  38. NickRB says:

    I wonder how long it will be, before the consumerist slaps on one of these sensational headlines onto a story and then is, in turn, slapped with a libel lawsuit?

    Did the FAA allow Southwest to fly unsafe planes? Just posing it as a question does not take away the real intention of that headline which is to essentially tell the reader “The FAA allowed Southwest to fly unsafe planes. Which of course, is not true.

  39. NickRB says:

    I think the biggest thing that everyone misses here is that the pilots were willing to fly these aircraft! While commercial pilots do not spend time on the ground inspecting these aircraft the airlines do. Whether it’s for simple maintainance or a repair or refueling there are men and women inspecting these aircraft daily. If there were problems with the aircraft they would be caught. Also, to think that Southwest would fly unsafe aircraft is ridiculous. They wouldn’t. The bad press and the loss of revenue as passengers chose to vote with their wallet would be diasterous for Southwest. Unfortunately the media likes to report things very poorly with no regard for the truth. That’s how excellent planes like the DC10 were killed. (DC10 engine fell off during take off. Engine was installed wrong by a technician not MD. The engine falling off should not cause a plan to crash but the pilot then went AGAINST his training and reduced power stalling the aircraft) The press however, labeled the aircraft a DEATH TRAP IN THE SKY! McDonnell Douglas never sold another one. So when you read these sensational stories, especially here on Consumerist, you need to remember that often times they are sensationalized to increase readership. Sometimes they’re outright lies. So step back and think before you join a mob of people that don’t know what they’re talking about.

  40. smarty says:

    @NickRB: Possibly part of the FAA did. One of the rare non-tabloid articles Consumerist has linked to is the BusinessWeek article about the FAA:
    [consumerist.com]
    [www.businessweek.com]
    Briefly (but read the articles), the actual hands-on inspectors find these problems, and report them up to their supervisors. But the supervisors (who are cozy with the airlines) just shrug it off and let them fly, while punishing the inspectors. It could be a vicious cycle where some inspectors won’t care anymore because their supervisors will overrule them anyway. So as the BW article explains, that’s how the conflicting FAA stories come out. This gives SWA the foothold to say the FAA(supervisors) said they can fly, but the FAA(whistle-blowers) said the planes were supposed to be grounded per FAA regulations.

    @rjhiggins: and what reason would Boeing have to say anything bad about SWA (which flies 100% Boeing planes)? No conflict of interest there?

  41. jtormey3 says:

    To quote John Carr of:
    http://www.themainbang.typepad.com
    when he was this morning defending my righteous indignation at Paula, Southwest, and the FAA in a different context:

    “I am the immediate past president of NATCA, and if you research the organization or the law regarding current dealings with the FAA you will learn quite a lot, and fly quite a little. Viva la Amtrak, I always say…Or, we can stick our heads in the sand and wait for some poor overworked controller using ancient equipment to turn Granny into a thin pink mist. You decide.
    Very best personal regards,
    John S. Carr
    Immediate Past President, NATCA
    Air Traffic Controller, 29 years, retired
    Author/Journalist, The Main Bang
    [www.themainbang.typepad.com]

    A publicist is SUPPOSED to flack, of course. That’s one function of her job. And sometimes, it’s even cute.

    But what about when a publicist tells millions of the innocent and unsuspecting that, like Kevin Bacon’s character in Animal House, “All Is Well! Remain calm!” – when in fact, the truth of the matter is that their LIVES have been and might continue to be at risk, and therefore all is NOT well?

    My question to you is, of course: “Is that STILL cute?”. Does the publicist get a free pass because, after all, she’s “just their publicist”? What about Baghdad Bob? Was he without blame for getting at least some of our American troops killed?

    What we at Quiet Rockland want ALL the aero-publicists to know, not just Paula, is that if they flack for the airlines, the FAA, or any other element of the aeromercantile complex, to the detriment of the physical safety of Americans – then they can expect to be treated by us and by the United States Congress in exactly the same way as we will continue to treat the criminals within the FAA itself. We are working with Congress and other elected officials, daily, to make sure that happens. We are taking back safe skies DESPITE the current FAA regime. There WILL be regime change at the FAA, and people like Paula might be swept out with that regime change unless they have an immediate epiphany and instead start to do the right thing.

    On another note, I understand that Mr. James Hoffa (Jr.) and the Teamsters just took on the FAA, in a yesterday press release. Maybe I’ll wait to further unleash that, until and after Paula and Southwest stop their transparent denial act and instead apologize to ALL of us with humility for putting our lives at risk in 2006-2007. In fact, given that new development, maybe I won’t even have to.

    Thank you,

    John J. Tormey III, Esq.
    Quiet Rockland

  42. APFPilot says:

    @NickRB: I think the biggest thing that you are missing is that we are willing to fly these airplanes because we generally have faith in those who inspect them. These cracks weren’t something I would see on my walkaround, they were in skins and had to be detected by NDT (non destructive testing) in this case eddy current testing. Your DC-10 example is a great one that completely goes against your position, AA thought they were doing the right thing during their engine change (just like WN with the inspections) but they weren’t.

  43. smarty says:

    Something the Southwest Blog won’t publish:
    [www.dallasnews.com]
    Summary of article about COZY relationship between FAA and SWA, with my own comments.
    1. FAA inspector Bobby Boutris complains of SWA planes.
    2. FAA investigated Bobby because of “anonymous” complaint that SWA hands to FAA. (How convenient is that?)
    3. Bobby removed from duty – retaliatory for pushing the issue of how FAA managers dealt with SWA.
    4. “”He was the inspector and found the issues with Southwest Airlines and went to report it to his appropriate supervisor,” Mr. Gentile said. “He was told to back off.”
    5. FAA closes investigation of SWA in April 2007, but reopens in Nov 2007. Why? Because Bobby blew the whistle.
    6. FAA, knowing Congress was ready to start hearings over SWA, reopens the investigation and fines SWA $10+million in order to say they were doing the right thing (much delayed of course and after giving Bobby a hard time).
    7. SWA employees flood blogs (here and elsewhere) about how only a couple flights missed inspections before they caught it (almost 60k), and once they caught it, they inspected it (but don’t mention how they flew another 1.4k flights without the inspections and knowing it was without inspections).

  44. t1n1t1 says:

    Something that nbc5i.com decided not to publish –
    whistleblower statements of Douglas Peters and Bobby Boutris about the FAA oversight of Southwest Airlines. Early this morning channel 5 news reported that they would not release the names of the whistleblowers; however, viewers could log onto their website and download their actual complaints. Afterwards, I followed the links to the site and read the complaints. Interestingly, approximately an hour later, I returned to the site, but the link had been removed and replaced with a link to Steve’s blogs. I tried to post a comment inquiring about the removal; however, my question was not posted. Sounds like someone does not want the complaints published.

  45. jtormey3 says:

    According to press reports to date, no less than 6, perhaps more, commercial jet aircraft potentially carrying hundreds of passengers per trip and sometimes on multiple trips per day – had cracks in them. Had cracks in them. And people at the FAA, and Southwest, knew it. And the planes had cracks in them. And the flights continued thereafter, nonetheless.

    Never mind malfeasance. Never mind immorality. If those factual assessments are correct at minimum, then that should be attempted freaking murder.

    What is WRONG with the non-prosecutorial milque-toasts, who blog on-line and refuse to find fault with Southwest? When did standing up for the individual rights, dignity, and safety of citizens become so politically incorrect to them?

    Oh yeah. I forgot. They are all Southwest employees, who, like their “Blogger Queen” compadre Paula Berg, were told or already expected by their ghoulish corporate employer to hit the blogosphere hard this past few days – to try to spin this horrific story to read as if there were never any safety problems that threatened the public – to fool the public, with blogging. Well, Southwest-“anonymous”-posters, YOU are the fools for thinking it wasn’t obvious to the rest of us. YOU are the reason that the laws governing perjury, exist. And as soon as ANY of you hack-corporate sycophants have the courage to identify yourselves by your full legal name and residence address, as well as your Southwest affiliation, then I expect that myself and a few friends will collaborate to give you a REAL working demonstration of how the perjury laws of the United States will further deflate your stupid Southwest publicity balloon FAST. It would be a distinct pleasure to bankrupt your morally-bereft airline, and I would do it just for the collar.

    One pro-Southwest blogger suggested that the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves – that’s right – the same FAA “blame the victim” “strategy”. He suggested, how dare we criticize Southwest, when some of us are not the best drivers in the world. Of course, I don’t take hundreds of lives up in a jet-fueled airplane, and take money for doing it, most days of my life, or any days of my life. So the comparison with any of us drivers on an individual level, is a foolish one. But the blogger was correct about this much. Everyone, on an individual level, should take personal responsibility, not merely diffuse corporate responsibility, for ensuring the safety and well-being of others, especially the safety and well-being of youngsters on the road or in the skies. That soccer mom in the Windstar on her cell phone with no headphone, those two goombahs drag-racing through populated areas – they are all as accountable as a publicist who shills in cover-up of corporate malfeasance, or a federal “official” who looks the other way and takes the check. I am going to have an easier time popping those in the latter two categories, though, as they tend to leave paper trails.

    Southwest’s next publicity “strategy”, its new brainstorm of spin-control, was the “Oh, you don’t know all the facts” strategy. “Wait for the facts to come out”. Memo to dutiful-tool-employees: EVERY TIME someone cites the authoritative representations made by a United States Congressman who chairs the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and whose Committee has been investigating Southwest and the FAA since the relevant events occurred in 2006-2007, just tell the people that, “Oh, no, YOU don’t have all the facts. Don’t go judging lest not ye be judged, ’cause YOU don’t have all the facts”.

    That’s funny. It’s also freaking moronic.

    Southwest and FAA’s actions have been the subject of an ongoing Congressional investigation dating back to 2007 or perhaps even as early as 2006. More than enough facts came out through Saturday March 8, 2008, including during the videotaped and audiotaped Representative James Oberstar press conference now available on:
    http://www.cspan.org
    to make the judgment on Southwest very, very clear. In fact, I have never heard any government official being more precise or more specific about allegations against a malevolent private sector entity, ever before, than Congressman Oberstar in that videotaped and audiotaped press conference. Southwest would prefer that you never, ever watch that Oberstar press conference. That of course means, I trust, it will shortly find its way to:
    http://www.youtube.com

    I weighed the events of the weekend carefully. Then, I realized – Representative Oberstar’s leadership on the Southwest Airlines debacle issue, as well as the unabashed past publicity balloons of Southwest’s “Blog Queen” Paula Berg which I read and laughed about, inspired me to myself register a new blog of my own this past weekend. You will find this new blog at:

    http:/SouthwestAirlinesAlmostKilledYou.blogspot.com/

    * * * * *

    I read some pretty funny other posts by Southwest employees using fake names, this past weekend, too. I loved it when I read that one poster thought Representative Oberstar should “defer” to the FAA and Southwest on this issue because, after all, they are the “experts” in aviation. That would be like “deferring” to your kidnap-captors because, after all, they are the “experts” in “captivity” – or like “deferring” to your executioner because, after all, he is the “expert” in “life and death matters”.

    Funny, funny stuff. It would be hysterical if it weren’t so transparent, and so malevolent. My advice to Southwest is, the next time you hire employees to blog for you en masse in time of crisis, at least make sure that they are decent writers, and at least make sure that you spend the money to give them good enough word-processors that contain spell-checking software. Seriously.

    Mainly though, every time you read an anonymous post or blog on the topic of Southwest’s cracked planes and the investigation and scandal which has followed it, from this point forward – or a rarer post for which Southwest actually takes credit, if you can locate one – just please remember: in the words of the late Frank DeKova’s character Chief Wild Eagle, on the 1960’s television program “F Troop”:

    “It is BALLOON!!!”

    “It is BALLOON!!!!!”

    Pop.

  46. jtormey3 says:

    Law Office of John J. Tormey III, Esq.
    John J. Tormey III, PLLC
    217 East 86th Street, PMB 221
    New York, NY 10028 USA
    (212) 410-4142 (phone)
    (212) 410-2380 (fax)
    e-mail: brightline@att.net

    Quiet Rockland – No New Flights Over Rockland
    John J. Tormey III, Esq.
    P.O. Box 918
    Pearl River, NY 10965 USA
    (845) 735-9691 (phone)

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    VIA E-MAIL: “______@ic.fbi.gov”, and U.S. MAIL
    Special Agent _________________, Assistant Director in Charge
    FBI New York
    26 Federal Plaza, 23rd Floor
    New York, NY 10278-0004 USA

    VIA U.S. MAIL
    Special Agent ____________, Special Agent in Charge
    ASAC ____________ – Branch 2; and ASAC ______________ – Branch 4
    FBI Dallas
    One Justice Way
    Dallas, Texas 75220 USA

    Re: Pending FBI Investigation Of Threat On Whistleblower Who Informed On FAA And Southwest

    Dear ______, _______, ________, and _________:

    As you are aware, I am attorney and co-founder of a citizen group called “Quiet Rockland” which has opposed various acts of FAA malfeasance since last summer 2007, including direct FAA threat to my home community of Rockland County NY and the Hamlet of Pearl River where many law enforcement personnel themselves reside.

    As of last night, Quiet Rockland and I understand from a news article posted at:

    [cbs11tv.com]

    that the FBI has now commenced an investigation into threat(s) made against one or more airplane-inspector/whistleblowers, who apparently informed on FAA and Southwest Airlines regarding cracked and un-inspected airplanes thereafter flown with passengers in them. I also understand that the relevant events may have occurred in the area of Dallas or Fort Worth, Texas, and DFW Airport.

    I note that on last Sunday night, Quiet Rockland itself requested a criminal investigation of FAA and Southwest, by faxing and e-mailing a press release to many media, government and other recipients, including every member of the United States Congress. The text of the press release is posted at, inter alia:
    [media-newswire.com]

    While actively posting the call for the investigation and a consumer boycott of Southwest Airlines to a number of newspaper website message boards and other electronic information locations, it became apparent to me and others that Southwest Airlines and perhaps also FAA may have deputized a not-insubstantial number of persons to “blog” back, in an endeavor to effect some publicist-like “spin control” on what is obviously a very serious life-or-death matter of aviation safety. Normally, corporate (and perhaps even governmental) bloggers, a number of whom use anonymous cover and pseudonyms, might not pose a substantial problem. But in this case, it is believed by Quiet Rockland that the anonymous and other bloggers seeking to squelch lawful calls for citizen and governmental response to an aviation safety nightmare, may in fact be part of the same deceitful and criminal hydra that is the common enterprise of Southwest and FAA.

    The most obvious example of these conspiratorial misuses of the electronic ether for aero-propaganda is found at Southwest’s own website at:
    [www.blogsouthwest.com]

    Some of the screen names used by these individual Southwest-tout posters, are:

    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”

    However, I also ask that you please consider reviewing the blogged comments located at the website of the following Dallas, TX newspaper, particularly relevant since the subject investigation events apparently took place in connection with DFW:

    [aviationblog.dallasnews.com]

    In the event that the newspaper takes down the blog’s text, I enclose a hard-copy of the blog-to-date to each of you, as well.

    Specifically with respect to the Dallas newspaper website, it appears that at least some of the individuals calling themselves by the following screen names, may in fact be working in concert with Southwest and perhaps also FAA, on a purposeful campaign to misinform the public – and thereby making themselves a continued threat to squelch free discourse, and knowledge of, and opposition to, a callous corporate and agency disregard for citizen and air traveler safety. The screen names are:

    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”
    “_____________”

    Such endeavor on their part would be the hallmark of an oppressive totalitarian society. Thank God The United States of America is not one of them, and never will be.

    It is suggested herein that the same mindset that caused threats to be made against one or more airplane inspectors or aviation whistle-blowers, may well now also be the mindset behind a very concerted pattern undertaken by multiple individuals seeking to threaten those like Quiet Rockland who would dare to challenge and question the aero-mercantile complex. This is a public safety issue, and lives hang in the balance when every single Southwest Airlines plane goes up in the air. As a citizen whose house may end up being flown-over up to 600 times a day if the FAA follows-through on its intended NY/NJ/PA Airspace Redesign, I want to know what else Southwest Airlines and the FAA are currently seeking to squelch and suppress, too.

    I will very much appreciate your looking into this matter, and apprising me of the status of your inquiry into same if and as appropriate, and as you may be able. Thank you.

    Respectfully,

    John J. Tormey III, Esq.
    Quiet Rockland – No New Flights Over Rockland
    Pearl River, Rockland County, New York