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Southwest Airlines and all their parts

While we're speaking of Southwest today, I would be remiss not to give brief mention to their parts scandal. If you haven't heard, the airline replaced some parts on its aircraft with other parts that were not FAA-approved. That doesn't mean they were bad parts, just means they didn't have the right paperwork, according to Southwest. But other experts say unapproved parts can be good parts or total crap made without any regulations.

Yesterday, the FAA said it would give Southwest until Dec. 24, to replace the unapproved parts with FAA-A-OK parts. They also said Boeing had looked over the replacement parts and determined that they wouldn't affect the safe operation of the aircraft, according to The Associated Press. The parts were on about 50 planes, which were grounded briefly last month when the FAA discovered the problem. The planes make up about 10-15% of Southwest's fleet.

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Today, some folks are saying that perhaps the FAA and Southwest are a little too cozy. After all, the airline in March agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine for operating thousands of flights without doing required safety inspections for cracks in the fuselage. Now they're using unapproved parts. Maybe the FAA is using a "three strikes" tack? I know airlines are really up against it in this economy, but most passengers draw the line at safety. Fliers deserve to know that the FAA will keep airlines, even hugely influential ones like Southwest, from crossing that line.

Photo: Associated Press

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