By Keith Laing - 07/28/14 02:21 PM EDT
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is fining Southwest Airlines $12 million for allegedly flying airplanes without making required repairs.
The agency said the airline failed to properly fix cracks on the fuselage on 44 of its Boeing 737 airplanes going back until at least 2006.
Instead of fixing the cracks correctly, the agency said Southwest hired a contractor to conduct "extreme makeovers" on the planes that involved not stabilizing the airplane on jacks before working on them.
“Safety is our top priority, and that means holding airlines responsible for the repairs their contractors undertake,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement announcing the fines. “Everyone has a role to play and a responsibility to ensure the safety of our transportation system.”
The FAA said the planes in question were operated on 20 flights each by Southwest Airlines before the procedures were cleared by federal regulators.
Southwest will have 30 days to respond to the FAA's allegations.