Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Air delays may now spread to other airlines

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WASHINGTON - This week's flight cancellations by American Airlines are likely to spread to other U.S. airlines in the weeks ahead as federal regulators step up a by-the-book review of carriers' compliance with maintenance and safety orders issued in recent years.

"If we do uncover any safety issues from these audits, the carriers will have to make a business decision as to how to deal with the issue," Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Les Dorr said.

Midwest Airlines on Thursday became the latest airline to ground planes and cancel flights to re-inspect a wiring harness, the same issue that has forced American to cancel more than 2,400 flights and Alaska Airlines to cancel about 40 more in recent days.

Nicholas Sabatini, the FAA official who ordered the audits last month after Southwest Airlines was found to have flown planes that missed inspections, faced tough questions from Congress Thursday about his responsibility for the lapses. Some of Sabatini's congressional testimony from last week, which came during a hearing that featured whistleblowers, has been labeled as "misleading and inaccurate" by House lawmakers.


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