FAA investigates Southwest over baggage weight discrepancies: WSJ

(Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is investigating Southwest Airlines Co for widespread failure to accurately track the combined weight of checked bags loaded onto its jets, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday.

The U.S. aviation safety agency's year-long civil probe found systemic and significant mistakes with employee calculations and luggage-loading practices, resulting in potential discrepancies when pilots compute takeoff weights, the Journal said, citing government officials and internal agency documents

The FAA has not decided whether to impose fines or any other punishment, the report cited people familiar with the investigation as saying.

The inaccuracies ranged from a few dozen pounds to more than 1,000 pounds in excess of what the paperwork indicated, sparking disputes between the company and some agency inspectors about potential safety consequences, the report said.

A company spokesman said there is an open Letter of Investigation (LOI) which is a common mechanism for the FAA to document and share safety interests or concerns with an airline.

The airline has not been issued fines and faces no enforcement action regarding its weight and balance program, Southwest spokesman Brandy King said.

"In this case, the LOI addresses an issue that Southwest voluntarily reported to the FAA last year and since that time, Southwest has implemented controls to address weight and balance program concerns, and shared those measures with the FAA," King said.

The FAA could not be immediately reached for comment.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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