Southwest Airlines has agreed to pay US$2.8 million to settle a lawsuit by the federal government over fuselage repairs that a contractor performed on dozens of planes.
The US Department of Justice on Monday said that Southwest also agreed to pay up to US$5.5 million in additional penalties if it fails to improve oversight of contractors it hires to perform maintenance work.
The US Federal Aviation Administration sued Southwest in November last year in federal district court in Seattle, and the case was scheduled to go to trial in March next year.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the settlement give Southwest strong incentives to correct problems discovered by FAA investigators.
The government asked the court to let it fine Southwest US$25,000 to US$27,500 for each time one of the planes flew before the maintenance work was done properly.
In court filings, Southwest had denied all of the agency’s allegations and called some of them hyperbole.
Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins on Monday said that safety is the airline’s top priority.
“We remain committed to meeting or exceeding all applicable FAA safety regulations,” he said.
The FAA faulted work done by Southwest’s contractor, Aviation Technical Services Inc (ATS) in Everett, Washington.
The agency said Southwest was still responsible for making sure that the work was done correctly.
The FAA charged that from 2006 to 2009, Southwest used 44 Boeing 737 planes that had undergone improper fuselage repairs.
According to Boeing instructions, when repairs are made to overlapping aluminum panels that make up a plane’s fuselage, workers are to apply sealant between the panels and install new fasteners within a limited time. ‘
ATS workers placed fasteners in only some of the rivet holes during the allowed time, and they did not properly support the fuselage during the work, the FAA said.
The FAA said that it alerted the airline company about the improper work in April 2009, but it continued to use the planes for another six months before doing further repair work.
The FAA also said Southwest flew two planes in 2012 after workers failed to move electrical wiring when altering systems that drain wastewater from galleys and lavatory sinks, which could create a fire risk in event of a lightning strike.
An ATS spokeswoman said the company would have no comment.
Concern over cracks and repair work in fuselages has grown in recent years. In 2009 and 2011, holes tore open in the skins of two Southwest jets during flights.
Investigators blamed fatigue cracks in the aluminum, and Boeing ordered extra inspections for 737s.
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) yesterday launched its first electric bicycle, the Gogoro Eeyo 1, in Taiwan, after unveiling the bike in New York in late May and in France on Tuesday. The company said it would also introduce the series in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The “Eeyo project” is the fourth of Gogoro’s eight projects that concentrate on smart transportation, which includes Gogoro’s electric scooter, battery swap system and electric scooter sharing service, company founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) told a media briefing in Taipei. “There are various types of city commuters. We will not
EXPERIMENTAL DRUG: While news about a COVID-19 vaccine is more eye-catching, developing a treatment would be more viable, the Senhwa boss said Senhwa Biosciences Inc (生華科) aims to raise NT$1.5 billion (US$50.57 million) by issuing 15 million new common shares in the third quarter of this year to fund the research of new drugs, including the experimental drug Silmitasertib for the treatment of COVID-19, the company said on Monday. That would be the firm’s largest fundraising effort after it raised more than NT$1.4 billion from an initial public offering on the Taipei Exchange (TPEX) in April 2017, chief financial officer Sarah Chang (張小萍) told the Taipei Times by telephone. The price of the new shares would depend on the firm’s average share price
NOT A PANACEA: Offering 5G services would not solve the problem of declining telecom incomes, chairman Sheih Chi-mau said, expecting a flat 5G telecom revenue Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) yesterday became the nation’s first telecom to debut its 5G services, offering tiered tariffs that include a threshold of NT$599 and flat rates, as it aims to switch half of its subscribers to the 5G network within three years. Subscribers would have unlimited data transmission for monthly fees starting at NT$1,399 — the same flat rate as when the company launched its 4G service in 2014 — and they can subscribe to the highest-rate plan for NT$2,699 per month for faster data transmission speeds and larger bandwidth, the company said. Data transmission speeds would be within the range
ROW: A probe would determine if the rights of shareholders who were not allowed to vote yesterday had been violated, while the stock exchange also wants answers The election of board directors yesterday at Tatung Co (大同) sparked controversy after the company blocked some institutional and individual shareholders from participating in the general shareholders’ meeting, prompting the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to announce that the vote would be investigated. Lin Kuo Wen-yen (林郭文艷) was re-elected as chairwoman of the household-appliance maker’s nine-member board, but prior to the vote she announced that several shareholders would not have voting rights. They were being denied a vote because they had contravened the Business Mergers and Acquisitions Act (企業併購法), and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and