USA Today Report: FAA "Botched" Airline Safety

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The FAA was the subject of a scathing editorial in yesterday's USA Today, following up on an investigative report last week into the 1998 Swissair crash that killed 229 people. "The FAA botched its most important mission," the editorial said, "to make sure that those inspecting, maintaining, and modifying commercial airliners do their jobs properly." One target of the report was the FAA's system of naming designees in the private sector to carry out these tasks. Yesterday, Ed Bolen, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, defended the designee program in a USA Today opinion piece. The system is "a valuable safety tool," he wrote, and aviation's record as the safest form of transportation reflects that. "Without the designees' participation, the FAA's certification office and its budget would need to grow some 600 percent so it could do that work itself," Bolen wrote. USA Today's editorial decries "lax monitoring" and "shoddy work" and links the FAA's failures to three fatal crashes: ValuJet in 1996, Alaska Airlines in 2000, and Swissair in 1998.