FAA: Ensuring safety

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARDMinor temper tantrums and rants aside, the flying public puts up with all sorts of delays and issues just to get where they’re going. Stringent (although at times, pointless) security measures, tightening luggage limits and hours spent on the runway waiting for last-minute safety inspections to be completed.We suffer through it all because we want to live to land and maybe even claim our baggage at our destination. But a spate of recent investigations makes us wonder if those in charge take passenger safety seriously. The latest one involves two Federal Aviation Administration inspectors who faced the firing squad for calling attention to what appears to be a cozy relationship between the agency and the airlines it’s meant to keep in line.Both spoke before the House Transportation Committee hearing Thursday. “I’m here to report that more than one inspector along with FAA management has been looking the other way for years,” said whistleblower Peter Boutris. Well, that explains why all of a sudden, in the midst of this embarrassing flap, several airlines have grounded several flights for inspections.The Transportation Security Administration found last fall that its agents allowed bomb parts and weapons to pass through inspections (but apparently, a nipple ring or two can trigger a DEFCON Four alert), and last week, the TSA had to deal with a CNN story exposing a shortage of federal air marshals on commercial flights. If those revelations don’t trigger major overhauls in how the government regulates the industry, nothing will.