Cosy FAA Inspector Let Infractions Slide
A government report says a longtime FAA inspector allowed unqualified pilots to fly for the U.S.’s largest airline. The report issued by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Transportation says that the 28-year veteran “seems to have been affected by his relationship with [American Airlines].”
The safety concerns—which only involved maintenance verification flights, not any flights carrying passengers—were originally brought to the FAA by the Allied Pilots Association (APA). After APA reported that its concerns had gone largely unanswered for 18 months, the Inspector General’s office stepped in to audit the FAA’s effectiveness in addressing the issue. In addition to finding that the FAA’s oversight of American “lacked objectivity,” the OIG report also pointed out issues with the FAA’s response method, which “ultimately routed [APA’s] letter back to the target of the complaint for response.”
The audit report (PDF) concluded with seven recommendations to improve program oversight and how the FAA responds to future safety concerns, including establishing criteria for evaluating correspondence and taking into account risk factors—such as the length of time inspectors oversee the same air carrier—when evaluating inspector objectivity. In response to the audit, the FAA said that it concurred with all of the recommendations as written and plans to implement all of them no later than June 2019. The inspector has since retired from the FAA and that American has put its flight test program under new leadership.