Southwest Airlines Reportedly Grounds Planes Over Maintenance Issue

Chris Sommer
February 15, 2019 - 6:10 pm
Southwest Airlines

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DALLAS (KRLD) - Dallas-based Southwest Airlines reportedly grounded 22 of its jets this week over concern about a part installed on some engines.

As first reported by NBC News, Southwest pulled the planes out of service because the wrong O-rings may have been installed on some of the engines.  Retired pilot and aviation safety expert John Cox said, "It's the way that you seal things, and they have to be put in in a specific way.  It may be that there was some question about some of these O-rings within the airplane, and as a precaution, they're being pulled from service."

Cox said the O-ring can prevent oil from leaking out of the engine, which potentially can lead to a shutdown.  No incidents have been reported as a result of the issue.

Cox said he was rather surprised to hear of the Southwest situation, adding, "Maintenance at Southwest is very good.  They've handled it well in that they've gotten ahead of it.  They've announced it.  They've taken a conservative approach."

In a statement to KRLD News, Southwest released the following:

Southwest’s maintenance organization issued a call to maximize the number of Mechanics available for work. On an average day, the airline plans for as many as 20 aircraft to be unexpectedly out of service for maintenance items. Each day this week, the percentage of out-of-service aircraft in our available fleet of approximately 750 aircraft, has more than doubled the daily average with no common theme among the reported items. To take care of our Customers, we are requiring all hands on deck to address maintenance items so that we may promptly return aircraft to service. At the same time, our operational planners have been working in the background to minimize the impact to our Customers.