May 24, 2018

Wyden, Udall, Leahy, Blumenthal Demand Answers over FAA’s Delay in Addressing Safety Concerns Prior to Fatal Southwest Airlines Explosion

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., today demanded the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) explain the agency’s delay in addressing concerns over faulty airline engines prior to the explosion of a Southwest Airlines engine earlier this year that killed a passenger.

It is hard to imagine a more important duty at the FAA than ensuring passenger safety during air flight, and with that, the importance of ensuring plane engines do not fail before, or in the duration, of a flight. We would expect the FAA to move as quickly as possible on airworthiness directives that ensure plane engines are safe, and have an assessed lifespan for those engines,” the senators wrote in their letter to the FAA.

Prior to the explosion of a Southwest Airlines engine in April of this year, the FAA had been notified of safety concerns over faulty airplane engines after a similar, nonfatal incident on a Southwest Airlines plane occurred in August 2016. Despite being aware of the safety concerns for nearly two years, the FAA failed to take immediate action to conduct proper oversight of the engines.

The senators also requested a list of entities that may have requested delaying a rule the FAA was considering to improve the safety of the engine model that exploded.

In April, Wyden sent a similar letter to the FAA after “60 Minutes” aired an investigation detailing passenger safety concerns over planes used by Allegiant Air.

Full text of the letter can be found here.