Inspector General calls for better airline safety inspectionsby Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Witnesses testifying before a Congressional committee Thursday said the airline industry needs a sweeping air-safety overhaul, starting with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Calvin Scovel, the Transportation Department's inspector general, said maintenance lapses at Southwest Airlines show the FAA isn't doing enough to monitor safety efforts of airlines.
"FAA must take steps to improve how it investigates safety issues and protects employees who bring important safety issues to light," said Scovel. "FAA must take actions to improve oversight of all air carriers, strengthen the use of partnership programs and restore confidence in the agency's ability to conduct oversight."
Scovel said the FAA relies too heavily on airlines to report safety problems. And Scovel charged the FAA has a pattern of excessive leniency at the expense of effective oversight and enforcement.
The FAA's chief safety officer, Nick Sabatini, apologized to the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for FAA's failures.
The FAA's proposed $10.2 million fine against Southwest last month for flying jets after missing inspections has thrust the FAA's oversight of airlines into the political spotlight.