...FAA Inspectors Stretched Thin...

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A shortage of FAA safety inspectors in the U.S. is also raising concerns about airline safety. A recent report by the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General concluded that the FAA needs to strengthen its oversight and monitoring of its inspectors and assess whether it can safely go ahead with the planned cuts of 233 safety inspectors. "We are down to the nub," Linda Goodrich, regional vice president for flight standards with the FAA inspectors union, told the Detroit Free Press last week. "We can't possibly provide the oversight we're required to do." The mechanics strike at Northwest Airlines is also raising questions about whether the FAA has enough staff to oversee the replacement workers. FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory told the Hartford Courant inspectors are working around the clock at Northwest's 10 largest repair centers. "We're maintaining close oversight on all aspects of the operation, including the training of those replacement workers and [their] performance," she said.