August 26, 2009

FAA probes Southwest over parts use

The Federal Aviation Administration says it is probing Southwest Airlines over allegations it used unauthorized parts on its older Boeing 737s.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford told Wednesday's Dallas Morning News the agency was trying to determine how the parts got onto the planes and that it was too early to comment.

The newspaper said concerns were raised by an FAA inspector at a maintenance shop operated by the airline, which is based in Dallas. The inspector reportedly questioned the appropriateness of parts used to divert hot engine exhaust away from the 737s' wings when their flaps are extended.

The questions resulted in the grounding of 46 Southwest Airlines jets Saturday, causing significant delays in its system.

The Morning News quoted Southwest spokeswoman Beth Harbin saying the questions center around a vendor and whether it correctly documented repairs and parts used on the planes.

We are all working toward that resolution now, but there are no conclusions or mandates at this point, Harbin said Tuesday night.