FAA Questions American's Lightning Safety

Mechanics grumble after airline stops inspections
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2008 1:40 PM CDT
An American Airlines MD-80 takes off from Tulsa International Airport in this April 14, 2003 photo.   (AP Photo/Tulsa Workd, David Crenshaw, FILE)
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(Newser) – The FAA is questioning American Airlines' new policy on lightning inspections, and its opener is: Why doesn’t American do them anymore? American recently forbade its mechanics from doing extensive lightning damage checks unless pilots suspected a strike, a move designed to reduce delays and cancellations. Big airlines are typically allowed to tweak safety standards, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea at all,” said one air-safety expert. “The FAA has no issue with our lightning strike policy,” said an American spokesman. But it could soon. Inspectors are taking the first steps toward a possible investigation. The issue highlights simmering labor tensions at American, whose own mechanics brought the change to the FAA’s attention.