Sunday, April 13, 2008

More FAA whistle-blowers begin to come forward

Go to McClatchy Newspaper original
WASHINGTON — More Federal Aviation Administration whistle-blowers are beginning to step forward with fresh allegations of a "culture of complacency" between the FAA and the airlines industry, the head of the government agency charged with investigating whistle-blower complaints said Friday.

The complaints under investigation by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel may widen attacks on the besieged regulatory agency. But with the FAA under scrutiny by Congress and government investigators, while hundreds of thousands of passengers reel from massive flight cancellations, the big question remains: How could this have happened?

The FAA was created in 1958 as an independent watchdog over airline safety. But instead the 46,000-employee agency is falling down on the job through a cozy relationship with the industry that has led to a years-long pattern of benign enforcement, say a parade of critics.

Over the past week, much of the flying public found itself grounded as American Airlines and other carriers abruptly canceled nearly 3,000 flights to make inspections and repairs that the FAA mandated. The unprecedented cancellations generated assertions that the FAA was overcompensating for past enforcement lapses. FAA officials vigorously deny that perception.


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