Southwest fine cut

The Baltimore Sun

Southwest Airlines has reached a deal with federal regulators that will reduce a proposed fine for aircraft inspection lapses by nearly $3 million.

The Federal Aviation Administration said yesterday that under the agreement, Southwest will pay $7.5 million in three installments to settle the penalty, which was originally proposed at $10.2 million last year.

The fine stemmed from allegations that the Dallas-based discount airline allowed 46 airplanes on nearly 60,000 flights without performing required inspections for fuselage cracks.

"This settlement with the FAA will allow us to focus on safety going forward, rather than on issues that are behind us and that have since been addressed," said Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins.

Southwest, the largest carrier at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, has agreed to complete 13 safety-related improvements, and the fine could double to $15 million if those requirements aren't met.

"This agreement furthers aviation safety by requiring important improvements to the airline's safety program. Some of those safety measures exceed FAA regulations," Lynne A. Osmus, the FAA's acting administrator, said in a statement.

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