I am sure the Boeing Company is very happy the focus has shifted to the FAA, not the Boeing Company.  Now, if we could just get Senator Murray to be interested in holding the Boeing Company accountable for their part of the problems…kinda hard though perhaps due to those campaign contributions.  GFS

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Murray blasts FAA over safety concerns

01:08 PM PDT on Thursday, April 17, 2008

By ROBERTA ROMERO / KING 5 News and Associated Press

Senator Patty Murray grills FAA over safety inspections

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) scolded the FAA at hearing Thursday on airplane inspections and passenger safety, saying “We need an FAA that actually fixes problems as they are found rather than one that rushes into a public relations campaign to assure everyone that there isn’t a problem.”

On Thursday, Murray grilled acting FAA administrator Robert Sturgill during a Senate subcommittee hearing about catch-up safety inspections that grounded thousands of flights last week, stranding close to a half million air passengers at airports across the country.

Murray asked hard questions, such as why the FAA has ignored inspector complaints, what is the exact nature of their relationship with airlines, and why are passengers having to pay the price?

Video

Raw: Murray’s opening statement during FAA hearing

Raw: Murray Q & A during FAA hearing

Raw: Statement by FAA official at hearing

Murray: FAA has ‘failed miserably

 

Murray heard regrets for inconveniencing airline passengers, some buck-passing to the airlines, and another promise to do better. 

“I regret and empathize with the disruption that that caused,” said Sturgill. 

But asked when better times will come, the Sturgill told Murray: we’ll get back to you. 

“This is frustrating. We sit here every year… We go through the same questions,” said Murray. 

Murray wanted no apologies, but reasons why the FAA failed to check up on American airlines’ progress on the now infamous MD-80 wiring inspections that suddenly grounded jets last week to comply with an airworthiness directive from a year-and-a-half ago. 

“They were given 18 months and during that 18 month time frame, the only thing the FAA did was look at paperwork. There were no physical inspections correct?” Murray pointedly asked. 

“I do not believe there were physical inspections of that particular ad,” Sturgill replied. 

Beyond the recent groundings, Murray said the FAA is not doing enough to catch airplane maintenance problems and keep passengers safe.  She prodded the FAA to step up and get a better handle on the airline industry.  Sturgill said he’s working on it. 

“We can put together some information for you on these five year inspections and get back to you on it,” said Sturgill. 

Murray replied that’s not good enough. 

“It is frustrating to this committee that has oversight over the FAA and hear the same answers year after year after year,” said Murray.  “It is frustrating to this committee to hear that the audits haven’t been done, reports haven’t been filed and we get an answer from you today sitting in front of us that you’ll get back to us. Believe me I’ve heard it before.” 

Murray directed Sturgill to get back to her with more of the information she wants within a week.

Murray added the FAA has not requested enough funding for inspectors and mechanics. She also said Congress has had to add more money to the FAA budget than requested by the Bush administration.

One other airline note: A senator asked if the FAA is ready to approve cell phone use on airliners in flight. The embattled Sturgill replied the cell phone question is way down on his to-do list.

 

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