Southwest Airlines confirmed Tuesday evening that it voluntarily grounded 128 of its Boeing 737-700 aircraft that day after it discovered that the airplanes had not received required inspections. That represents nearly 20 percent of its fleet of 665 airplanes as of Dec. 31, 2014.
Southwest informed FAA around 5 p.m. of the problem. Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said the carrier canceled about 80 Tuesday flights as a result. The FAA approved the airline’s plan to do the needed inspections over a five-day period, she said.
Southwest Airlines has had several issues with the FAA over maintenance questions. Last July, the agency proposed a $12 million fine over three separate issues. Southwest has challenged the fine in federal court. In 2008, the FAA proposed a $10.2 million fine over maintenance issues, later settling for a $7.2 million fine.