FAA Too Cozy With Airlines, Whistle-Blowers Say

Lawmakers cite agency's 'complacency' in letting safety risks fly
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 4, 2008 2:50 PM CDT
A Southwest Airlines plane taxies near two grounded ATA planes at Chicago's Midway International Airport Thursday, April 3, 2008.    (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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(Newser) – An overly cozy relationship between airlines and the federal agency tasked with inspecting them has lawmakers worried in the wake of hearings yesterday on Capitol Hill, the Chicago Tribune reports. Federal Aviation Administration officials let serious safety issues fly, ignoring maintenance and inspection regulations, safety specialists, government overseers and whistle-blowers testified. 

The FAA’s top safety official said “the safety record simply does not support allegations” of a broken system; legislators disagreed. “I fear that complacency may have set in at the highest levels of FAA management,” said the committee chairman. One FAA inspector told of his supervisor, who responded to serious risks with a “letter of concern”; another said publicizing his safety fears threatened his job.