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Audit blasts safety culture, FAA’s oversight

A government report out late Tuesday blasts the Federal Aviation Administration’s lax oversight of Southwest Airlines, but reserves some of the harshest criticism for the airline.

The 31-page report from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, which follows an 18-month audit, said 61% of the 46 FAA officials it interviewed, from senior executives to local inspectors, raised issues about Southwest’s approach to safety.

“Many officials throughout FAA have expressed concern about the safety culture

at Southwest Airlines,” the report says.

During an investigation into whistleblower claims that Southwest mechanics were being pressured not to document aircraft discrepancies, the FAA’s Quality Control and Investigations Branch found that “there is an absence of a ‘Just Safety’ Culture” at Southwest.

The highlighted comments from unidentified FAA employees paint a damning picture of the nation’s largest domestic airline, a darling of travelers and Wall Street:

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