A safety probe at Southwest Airlines leads to the removal of 3 FAA senior managers

The FAA has confirmed that three senior managers have been reassigned as part of an ongoing investigation into several safety and personnel issues at Dallas-based Southwest Airlines.

The removals were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which also indicated the action may be tied to retaliation against whistleblowers who were drawing attention to safety issues.

The U.S. Transportation Department has been looking into issues at the airline for months. Complaints include assertions that the airlines wasn’t properly logging maintenance of its jets, and not properly measuring the weight of its baggage on flights.

An FAA official confirmed the reassignments to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but also cautioned that the moves were personnel matters and not related to any immediate safety issue.

“We take allegations regarding safety oversight and retaliation seriously,” the FAA said in a written statement. “We also work continuously to improve the FAA organization’s overall performance to meet our critical safety mission. To uphold these principles, we take appropriate action as necessary. We do not comment on personnel matters.”

Southwest issued a statement Wednesday saying the airline was continuing to “fully cooperate with the ongoing Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit as it assesses the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) oversight of Southwest systems for managing risk.”

“Several areas of FAA oversight have been reviewed as the audit has progressed and we are not aware of any recent items surfaced as specific areas of focus,” the statement read.

The FAA staffing changes occurred at the Southwest Airlines Certificate Management Office.

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Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997. He is passionate about hard news reporting, and his beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, business trends. He is originally from El Paso, and loves food, soccer and long drives.