Southwest Airlines, initially combative in the face of a $10.2 million fine from the Federal Aviation Administration for inspection lapses, took a more conciliatory tone on Tuesday. The company said that it had suspended three employees, hired an outside maintenance expert and was "fully engaged" with F.A.A. officials auditing the carrier.
Both the agency and the airline were embarrassed by a disclosure that two F.A.A. inspectors had complained that an agency supervisor allowed Southwest to operate older Boeing 737s that had gone past a deadline for inspection.