Investigators allege that Dallas-based Southwest Airlines stonewalled FAA investigations and worked to close inquiries quickly. It and union officials resisted handing over information. Dallas News reports that the report was released Wednesday, drawing serious concerns about the relationship between the FAA and Southwest Airlines. This relationship has been the focus of previous investigations. It drew scrutiny for its involvement in Boeing's development of the 737 Max aircraft.
The report was sent to President Joe Biden's desk. The report cites four whistleblowers who allege the FAA knowingly permitted Southwest Airlines to engage in unsafe and improper actions, which compromised the safety of the public. Dallas News reports that Southwest Airlines says they have fully cooperated with all inquiries addressed in the report including allegations raised by the Office of Special Counsel.
The report accuses the FAA of failing to oversee Southwest's assigning of mechanics more work that can be completed and then pressuring them to sign off on work that was not completed or completed by someone else. Dallas News reports that the investigation showed that leadership at the Federal Aviation Administration interfered with the arm overseeing Southwest Airlines from 2018 and 2020 amid SWA's intimidation tactics.
Southwest Airlines was investigated in February 2020 by the DOT's Office of Inspector General, which said that safety culture consists of using diversion, distraction, and power to get what the airline wants. The report states that the FAA was complicit in the airline's efforts to hide serious incidents involving pilot error. Leadership changes have not addressed FAA's mismanagement.