The FAA is not doing enough to ensure that regional airlines meet the same level of safety as the major carriers they are affiliated with, according to a report from the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General, released last week. After the 2009 crash of a Colgan Air Q400, which was operated as a Continental Connection flight, the FAA and the Transportation Department initiated an industry-wide "Call to Action" to ensure a common level of safety between code-sharing partners. However, the OIG report found that the FAA doesn't have any specific procedures in place to make that happen. The FAA needs to do more to review code-share agreements and to ensure that major airlines share their safety practices with their regional partners, the report concluded.
Regional airlines today account for more than half of all scheduled commercial passenger flights, operating more than 13,000 flights daily and carrying about 160 million passengers per year, according to the report. That's an increase of 115 percent from 2000 to 2010. The report also found that in most cases, the FAA and the Transportation Department are not required to review the code-share agreements. Mainline carriers use the agreements to purchase seat capacity from an independent regional airline or contract for their services to fly passengers to their larger hub airports.