The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has imposed a $3.92 million fine on Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) for errors that the carrier made in 2018. A statement indicated that the airline reportedly operated several aircraft on commercial flights with an erroneous calculation of balance data and weight.
Southwest fined for miscalculation of weight and balance data
The FAA has indicated that Southwest Airlines operated around 44 aircraft on 21,055 flights between May 1, 2018, and August 9, 2018, with erroneous operational empty weights as well as the center of gravity data. The regulator indicates that the carrier’s aircraft operated in contrary to the FAA operations specifications and recommended weight-and-balance program.
The statement from the FAA indicates that weight-related information is very important. It is used with other data to determine the number of passengers and fuel that the aircraft can carry safely and where to place cargo. The carrier has 30 days to respond to the FAA, but they can equally negotiate a settlement, which will ultimately lower the amount they will pay.
Southwest reported errors in weight and balance data to FAA
According to Brian Parrish, the Southwest spokesman, the proposed fine was from data processing issues that resulted from the transfer of aircraft weight information from one computer system to the other. He indicated that they identified and reported the issues to the FAA in July 2018, and they resolved them in early August 2018.
Further, the carrier has stated that since they discovered the errors in 2018, it has enhanced its weight and balanced program. They have done this by the implementation of more controls to strengthen the management of aircraft weight data in their computer systems.
The penalty is, however, unrelated to a different investigation on how the airline calculates weight and balance data before take-off. The data takes into account factors that include cargo, bags, and passenger and their positioning in the plane. These are vital as they determine the amount of fuel needed, as well as take-off and landing speeds. The FAA has investigated Southwest Airlines for almost two years.