Southwest flew 17 million passengers on planes with unconfirmed maintenance records, WSJ reports

Key Points
  • U.S. carrier Southwest Airlines flew millions of passengers on planes that had “unconfirmed maintenance records,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The U.S. government investigation slammed the Federal Aviation Authority in Dallas for poor oversight of Southwest.
  • The airline said it is disappointed by the draft version of the report.
Southwest Airlines flight 1117 from St. Louis lands at Boston Logan International Airport on March 13, 2019. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
John Tlumacki | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

U.S. carrier Southwest Airlines flew millions of passengers over a two-year period on planes that had "unconfirmed maintenance records," according to a draft government report seen by The Wall Street Journal.

The Transportation Department report added that in one instance in 2019, the airline smashed two wingtips of a plane on a runway when pilots repeatedly tried to land in high wind, according to the Journal.

The government report, based on an 18-month inquiry, also reportedly criticized the Federal Aviation Authority in Dallas for allowing Southwest to "fly aircraft with unresolved safety concerns."

According to the newspaper, the draft report concluded that FAA oversight of the U.S. carrier was "lax, ineffective and inconsistent," and that the agency's approach helped to "justify continued noncompliance with safety regulations."

The FAA told the Journal it would respond directly to the Office of Inspector General, while Southwest told the newspaper that it had "communicated our disappointment in the draft audit report to the OIF."

A spokesman for the inspector general declined to comment, the newspaper said.

The FAA has come under fire for lax oversight during the development of Boeing's 737 Max, which is now grounded worldwide after two fatal crashes in five months. 

A Southwest spokeswoman told the newspaper the airline reviewed the draft on Tuesday and strongly disagrees with "unsubstantiated references to Southwest's Safety Culture."

NBC News has not seen the government's unreleased draft report.

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