Southwest Airlines agreed to pay a $2.8 million penalty to settle a government investigation into maintenance procedures on its Boeing 737s.
Under the settlement, announced by the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday, Southwest is required to make operational changes to enhance its oversight of third-party maintenance contractors who work on its aircraft. The Dallas-based carrier also agreed to pay up to $5.5 million in deferred civil penalties if it does not implement the changes.
“Safety depends on compliance with our regulations,” said Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta in a statement. “This agreement provides strong incentives for Southwest to take specific steps to address the compliance problems that the FAA investigations uncovered.”
The FAA initially fined Southwest $12 million after its investigation found that Southwest’s third-party contractor, Aviation Technical Services in Everett, Wash., which it hired to fix 44 Boeing 737s, did not follow proper procedures in repairs. The work, started in 2006, was to prevent aluminum skin from cracking on the aircraft. The government filed a lawsuit in November 2014 to enforce the $12 million penalty.
“We are pleased to have reached a comprehensive settlement with the U.S. government over matters that are now fully resolved and far behind us,” Southwest said in a statement. “The settlement allows us to move forward and focus on our current and future priorities. The safety of our aircraft remains our top priority, and to that end, we remain committed to meeting or exceeding all applicable FAA safety regulations.”