MIAMI – Southwest Airlines (WN) has grounded 130 Boeing 737-800 jets after discovering discrepancies in the aircraft weight data. With an “abundance of caution,” the airline will reset the program of the affected aircraft to correct the weight discrepancy of about 75 lbs.

Southwest expects the setback to have a minor impact in its operations, despite the fact that the temporary grounding will cause some flight delays and cancelations.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 holding on the north runway after landing at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Photo: formulanone.

Southwest under the FAA Radar

Early this year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alleged that WN operated 21,505 flights during May and August 2018 with incorrect operational empty weights. The allegation also implies WN had an incorrect center of gravity or moment data on aircraft.

As a result, the airline had to pay US$3.92m in fines. However, a month later, the US Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General said the FAA violated its own guidance in relation to its own allegations against WN.

The Office unveiled a report where the aforementioned flights were in fact allowed by the FAA. These flight operations were qualified as having “inaccurate and non-compliant weight and balance data.” based on WN’s risk determination.

The FAA later said that it would continue monitoring the airline’s implementation of corrective measures. Regarding the current Boeing 737-800 grounding, WN anticipates another allegation for its aircraft weight discrepancies.

Featured photo: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800. Photo: Eddie Maloney.