American Airlines Report Roasts FAA

Airline blames policy switch for thousands of canceled flights
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2008 10:16 AM CDT
A lone traveler walks in the deserted baggage claim area for American Airlines, Thursday, April 10, 2008, at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.    (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – American Airlines blames the FAA for its recent grounding of thousands of flights, the Wall Street Journal reports. The airline is set to deliver a report today that says 3,300 flights were canceled because FAA headquarters reversed a "handshake deal" the airline had with regional aviation officials that was supposed to allow the company to comply with changes in FCC wiring standards on its MD-80 aircraft without cancellations.

Insiders say that the report claims the FAA—shaken by a public uproar over maintenance lapses at Southwest—changed its policy overnight, leaving the airline with no option but to strand hundreds of thousands of passengers. The FAA is expected to dispute American Airlines' take on events and say the groundings were due to poor workmanship on the aircrafts' wiring system that caused a safety hazard.