Southwest Airlines Maintenance Technicians Respond to “CBS This Morning” Report On Airline Safety
As the FAA has found, Southwest Airlines maintenance managers engage in coercive tactics that result in a “capitulation of airworthiness and a culture of fear and retribution.”
American law, specifically the AIR 21 whistleblower statute, has provided the necessary means to resist management pressure to turn a blind eye to corrosion, gouges, and other significant aircraft damage.
Now, however, Southwest Airlines — already the major airline with the fewest Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) per aircraft — is demanding the right to have its aircraft maintenance work performed in foreign countries that do not safeguard the professional integrity and compliance requirements of our profession. The interests of American workers — many who are military veterans, and the security of the traveling public — demand that this safety-sensitive work be performed in our own country.
The CBS This Morning report accurately depicts the nearly constant pressure exerted on Southwest AMTs to ignore significant aircraft damage. If Southwest is safe it is despite Southwest management, not because of it. However, as the FAA has observed, the AMT’s fears of retaliation will inevitably lead to a “degraded level of safety.”
This degradation of safety culture has occurred under the watch of Senior Vice President of Operations Landon Nitschke, who shockingly conceded that, at Southwest, “sometimes we hide our compliance issues under the Warrior Spirit.” If Southwest is to regain its former level of safety maintenance culture, as we have previously stated, Mr. Nitschke has to go.
“Maintaining safe aircraft in accordance with federal aviation standards takes time and money,” said Bret Oestreich, AMFA National Director. “Nitschke doesn’t seem to care. His decisions have destroyed employee morale and will cause highly skilled, tenured technicians to leave the airline. We need a change. We are hoping that Southwest’s leadership recognizes that Nitschke is destroying the safety culture, which Southwest was once so proud of, and will remove him before there are tragic consequences.”