A Southwest Airlines flight landed a short time ago after it was observed onboard that one of the windows was cracked. This occurred shortly after take-off and the flight landed safely. Reading some of the articles it might be hard to figure out this isn’t part of some massive failure by Southwest to take care of their fleet.
This CNN article at least gets the title right. The pilot didn’t declare an emergency. It was an unplanned landing, out of an abundance of caution. But, the article references Tweets from obviously concerned folks:
I can certainly understand the concern on behalf of this passenger’s son. I’m just not sure CNN did any service showing multiple pictures of the same broken window, with 2 of the accompanying complaints claiming Southwest has major issues.
The CNN article is at least more balanced than this Daily News piece. For starters, the title is wrong. No emergency landing was declared by the pilots. Undeterred by those facts, the article goes on to say:
Southwest has been embroiled in controversy since a woman was killed after one of its plane’s engines exploded, sending shrapnel from the engine through a window.
And, for good measure:
Wednesday’s incident draws renewed attention to the airline’s aircraft maintenance issues.
I don’t see a controversy, so I certainly don’t see Southwest embroiled in one. The engine failure on Southwest flight 1380 is a tragedy. The loss of even a single life is devastating. I can only imagine the anxiety suffered by passengers and crew on the flight. Southwest’s response has been, in my opinion, very genuine.
The NTSB is investigating the incident. It’ll take some time to come to a final conclusion. In the interim, I have faith that if the FAA really felt like Southwest Airlines operated unsafely, they’d step in. At a minimum, there’d be more “there” there, similar to the recent 60 Minutes piece on Allegiant Air’s safety issues.
That second quote above, “to the airline’s aircraft maintenance issues” just strikes me as unabashed bunk. Southwest Airlines is safe to fly on. I’d hop on one of their planes today without hesitation. Today’s incident shouldn’t change your opinion of that. The plane did not suffer a loss of pressurization. Oxygen masks were not deployed. I’m sure it was scary onboard, but all reports point to the fact that passengers were safe.
The Final Two Pennies
When I first heard about today’s issue with the cracked window on a Southwest flight, I did some quick reading about it. The incident didn’t seem overly serious, so I was inclined not to write about it. As I read more articles, I started to become uneasy with how some news organizations were reporting on the matter. We don’t need more panic. We need facts. The initial reports seemed to include more of the former than the latter.
It’s easy to say that air travel is safer than car travel. The facts bear this out. But, that doesn’t make a cracked window on a plane any less scary to passengers on that plane, or their loved ones. That cracked window also doesn’t provide further evidence that Southwest is an unsafe airline to fly. There are plenty of safeguards in place to protect us when we fly. Airlines have plenty of oversight. Incidents like these can still happen. But, there’s really no evidence today that Southwest’s attention to maintenance had anything to do with a cracked window. Or, for that matter, to the engine failure on 1380.
It’s a good time to let the experts on these matters conduct their investigation and inform us of any concerns. Gosh knows there are plenty of other things in the world we can stress about right now.
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