Tag Archive: FAA


FAA Whistleblower: “They don’t want you to be part of the solution; they want you to go away.”

“After 25 years at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, an air-traffic controller who blew the whistle on Federal Aviation Administration misconduct is quitting.

Anne Whiteman started reporting problems 12 years ago at the airport – including an incident in which two planes came within 300 feet of each other – and has suffered continual harassment since, including physical assault, isolation, and even a death threat.

Twice her claims were substantiated by Office of Special Council investigations (OSC), but the harassment only increased to include claims of drug abuse, not showing up to work on time, and fraud. The OSC is the federal agency charged with protecting federal employee whistleblowers.

Whiteman even emailed new FAA director Randy Babbit in May of this year, shortly after his appointment. He did not respond.

Saying that the FAA finally won, Whiteman resigned last week. She had been offered a new position, only to have the opportunity withdrawn. Whiteman now believes that there is no accountability at FAA, and that “they don’t want you to be part of the solution; the want you to go away.”

The FAA responded in a statement that they are reaching out to whistleblowers.”

From GAP:  http://whistleblower.typepad.com/all_things_whistleblower_/2009/09/faa-whistleblower-they-dont-want-you-to-be-part-of-the-solution-they-want-you-to-go-away.html

Isn’t that the truth and in more agencies than just the notably corrupted FAA.  The Federal workplace is becoming littered with the abused, the damaged, the tired and disheartened “good people” whose only crime was wanting to do their jobs ethically and well, you know the job they were hired to do, the job they were trained to do, (at least in the old days when federal employees actually were allowed to get the training they needed to become good at their jobs). 

And in industry it is no better. 

I wish more people would speak up.  If we made a paper chain out of the resume’s of these people who’ve sacrificed their careers and more to try to do right, we’d cover the nation via I-90 by now.  I am thinking that what a retired investigator told me some time ago, that the only way to get change is to publicly humiliate the wrongdoers,  may be correct.  Any one who wishes to speak up is invited to do so here!  -GFS

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WASHINGTON, June 4, 2009

FAA Inspector Warned Of Safety Issues

 

 

(AP)  A federal safety inspector assigned to the airline involved in an air crash that killed 50 people in upstate New York in February warned of safety problems at the airline a year before the accident.

 

An attorney for Federal Aviation Administration inspector Christopher Monteleon said he reported problems with the flight testing program at Colgan Air of Manassas, Virginia, for its newly acquired Bombardier Dash 8-Q400s in January 2008. That’s the same type of plane that crashed Feb. 12 near Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

 

Among the problems Monteleon reported were that the Colgan test pilot exceeded the permissible speed limit for the Dash 8 and had difficulty properly landing the plane.

 

Test pilots typically are an airline’s most skilled pilots and are expected to train other pilots on how to fly new aircraft.

 

After Colgan, a regional air carrier, complained to the FAA about Monteleon, his FAA supervisor reassigned him to desk work and ordered him to have no further contact with the airline, his attorney, Debra Katz, said.

 

When Monteleon continued to press for action on safety concerns at Colgan and what he alleged was a cozy relationship between the agency and the airline, he was transferred or reassigned three more times, Katz said.

 

In March, Monteleon had a confrontation with an FAA attorney and was placed on administrative leave by the agency, Katz said. Monteleon told The New York Times, which first reported on his complaints Wednesday, that agency officials accused him of menacing the attorney.

 

Katz said in a letter to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt that it was Monteleon, 64, a former pilot and 40-year veteran of the aviation industry, who felt threatened.

 

Monteleon has filed a complaint with the federal Office of Special Counsel, which investigates whistleblower complaints, Katz said. He has also been interviewed by the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General, the agency’s internal watchdog, Katz added.

 

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown declined to discuss personnel actions taken involving Monteleon. She said his complaints about safety violations at Colgan were investigated by a special FAA team, which found some record-keeping and other problems but no violations of safety regulations.

 

“The bottom line was they didn’t find any major regulatory issues,” Brown said.

 

A spokesman for Colgan didn’t return a phone call from The Associated Press late Wednesday.

 

Aviation safety consultant Jack Casey said that if Monteleon’s complaints about the testing of the Dash 8 are correct – especially if a pilot significantly exceeded the aircraft manufacturer’s specified speed for the plane – they are very serious.

 

“It’s not unusual that you have a few little teething problems (when testing a new plane), but what he’s describing goes way beyond that,” Casey said.

Concerned about flying and air safety?  Check this out.  Use link at top to go to AirSafe.com website for even more links and information.  -GFS

 

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AirSafe.com

Link to AirSafe.com:  http://www.airsafenews.com/2009/04/send-your-comments-to-faa.html

 

April 2009

Send Your Comments to the FAA

The previous post discussed the FAA’s proposal to restrict public access to the Wildlife Hazard Database. This post will show you how you can submit comments about this proposal online, and provides an example of what kinds of comments would be the most effective.

The FAA invites interested persons to participate in this rule making by submitting written comments, including data, that deal with the possible impacts that may result from adopting a proposal. The most helpful comments are those that deal with a specific part of the proposal.

The FAA accepts comments online, by, fax, by mail, or you can deliver it in person. AirSafe.com will focus on the online option. If you want to use another method, the information is provided in the FAA proposal

.

The online portal for submitting comments is at http://www.regulations.gov

. If you put in the docket number (FAA-2009-0245) in the Search Documents box, you will be taken to a page with a number of options. To add a comment, click on the words “Send a Comment or Submission” or on the comment icon (it looks like a little yellow balloon).

Before you add comments, you may want to spend some time thinking about what you want to write. It is best to comment on one or more specific points in the proposal. I suggest that you take the time to read it over and come to your own conclusions. Below, I’ll list the points that will be highlighted by AirSafe.com.

FAA Arguments and AirSafe.com Objections

FAA Argument: Information about bird and wildlife strikes will not be submitted to the database because the disclosure of raw data could unfairly cast unfounded aspersions on the submitter.
AirSafe.com Objection: There are three parts to this objection:

1. Individuals who submit information to the database are not identified.

2. Assuming that it is somehow possible to identify the organization associated with one or more submissions, for example a specific airline or airport, then if someone makes unfair or unsupported claims, then that implies that there was a very poor analysis based on the data. A competent analysis would likely put the raw data in the proper context and neutralize any unfair claims.

3. According to the US government publication Wildlife Strikes to Civil Aircraft in the United States 1990-2007

, only one in five bird and wildlife strikes are reported to the FAA’s database. The FAA proposal contains no projection or estimate about what affect the proposed rule change would have on those who currently submit data, those who don’t submit because of the current disclosure rules, and those who are not submitting for other reasons. Would the proportion of reported strikes go up to 25% if the disclosure rules changed? 50%? 75%? Perhaps it would drop to 15%.

FAA Argument: Releasing information from the database without benefit of proper analysis would produce an inaccurate perception of the individual airports and airlines and also inaccurate and inappropriate comparisons between different airports or different airlines.
AirSafe.com Objection: The fact that individuals or organizations may not understand how to do a proper analysis is not relevant because it is not the FAA’s job to judge the competence, motives, or experience of those who may request data from a public database.

FAA Argument: Inaccurate portrayals of airports and airlines could have a negative impact on their participation in reporting bird strikes.
AirSafe.com Objection: As stated before, the FAA has no control over the actions of anyone who requests data. Inaccurate portrayals are always a possibility. However, the FAA has the expertise that should be able to easily counter any inaccurate analysis that unfairly portrays an airline or airport with a better analysis. There are a number of other industry organizations, including any affected airline and airport, that would be very willing to help the FAA to counter these kinds of unfair portrayals.

FAA Argument: The database should be exempt from public disclosure because when the FAA began collecting this data, it assured the entities submitting the data that the submissions would not be made available to the public.
AirSafe.com Objection: A review of the current online form and downloadable paper form for inputs to the Wildlife Hazard Database have nothing that promises that the data would not be available to the public. AirSafe.com’s review of historical paper input forms going back to 1997 also show no such written promises. While the FAA may have made promises when the database was first created, the fact that for at least the last 12 years the FAA has apparently not made any promises of data privacy implies that they were not serious about their assurances made nearly 20 years ago.

What Should You Do Now?

If you want to make a comment to the FAA, do it before the deadline of April 20, 2009. Take the time to read the proposal and write down your comments. Follow the links given earlier and submit your comments to the FAA. If you need help or advice,

feel free to contact us.

About Me

Todd Curtis

He holds a PhD in aviation risk assessment from the Union Institute, as well as engineering degrees from MIT, the University of Texas, and Princeton. His aviation safety work has been featured by numerous news organizations, including the New York Times, and he has appeared on CNN, CBS, Fox News, Discovery Channel, the BBC, and National Public Radio. Previously, he has published and presented a number of technical papers in the areas of aviation risk assessment and also was the author of the 2000 book Understanding Aviation Safety Data. He has taken many of those engineering risk assessment concepts and applied them to Internet related problems in the 2007 book Parenting and the Internet.

 

By Wade Goodwyn

June 16, 2008

This is shaping up to be the year of the whistle-blower at the Federal Aviation Administration.

So far, 32 men and women have stepped forward with concerns about safety issues — nearly triple the number for all of 2007.

The FAA has responded by implementing new systems for reporting safety issues, and it says the situation underscores that the agency has dedicated workers who put public safety first. But the agency also has been accused of looking the other way when supervisors retaliated against those who spoke out — potentially ruining a whistle-blower’s career.

An Invitation to Disaster

Peter Nesbitt was a veteran controller with 17 years of experience when he transferred from Austin, Texas, to the control tower at Memphis International Airport in Tennessee. Both Northwest Airlines and FedEx use Memphis as a base of operations, and Nesbitt liked working the night shift.

But there was something that didn’t sit right with him: During the times when the airport got a big push of inbound traffic, controllers were instructed to use all four runways for landing.

Nesbitt thought this was an invitation to disaster.

“When I saw the operation, I asked some of my peers and supervisors, ‘Hey, what’s up with this procedure, this looks kinda scary,’ ” Nesbitt says.

Imagine three parallel runways next to one another like rows of corn. The fourth runway at Memphis International runs across the end. If all the landings go as planned, there is no problem because the plane landing on the fourth runway is already on the ground as the other planes pass overhead on approach. But if the plane landing on the crossing runway has a problem and needs to execute what is called a “go around,” then its flight path could take it directly into the flight path of the other planes.

This occasionally happens at Memphis. Last year, in fact, a Northwest Airlines DC-9 aircraft almost collided in midair with a commuter plane while Nesbitt watched from the control tower.

“I saw a twin turboprop on approach to land on runway 27 [the crossing runway],” Nesbitt says. “At the same time, there was a DC-9 on approach to the left runway. As the Saab-Fairchild approached the runway, the pilot informed the local controller that he was going around due to an unsafe gear indication.”

As the jet and the commuter plane converged, the controller handling the landing began to plead with the turboprop pilot to “stay low, stay low, stay low.” The Saab-Fairchild pushed the nose over and flew down the length of runway 27, says Nesbitt. At the same time, the pilot flying the DC-9 jammed his throttles forward, pulled back the stick and clawed for the sky. The commuter plane ended up flying right underneath him.

“I estimate that it was 800 feet or less,” Nesbitt says. “It was the closest we had seen two airplanes come together in my career — and everyone else’s, too.”

Nesbitt says managers had always told the controllers at Memphis International that the airport had a special waiver from the FAA to land planes this way. When the controllers asked to see the waiver, Nesbitt says they were told it wasn’t in Memphis: It was kept in Atlanta and they didn’t need to worry about it. The truth was that both Memphis Airport officials and FedEx executives liked having the four runways landing planes at once during peak operations. But Nesbitt was too frightened to let it go.

“I went straight downstairs when I got a break, and I filled out a NASA aviation safety report, and submitted it to NASA that night,” he says. “Then I contacted the National Transportation Safety Board, and sent them an e-mail about the runway.”

From the beginning, Nesbitt worried about retaliation. And federal investigators quickly uncovered embarrassing information. Memphis International, in fact, did not have a waiver to conduct that controversial landing procedure, and the FAA ordered it stopped immediately.

But the desire to maintain the status quo was strong, and Memphis managers continued to land planes in the same operation until Nesbitt busted them to the FAA again, according to FAA documents.

The retaliation against him was quick and intense, Nesbitt says. Over the past year, managers in Memphis have decertified him for alleged performance issues.

“It’s been excruciating,” Nesbitt says. “It’s been disturbing. I’ve tried to do the right thing and enhance safety, and I’ve paid the price.”

To Be an Outcast

Nesbitt is not alone when it comes to a backlash.

Dallas-based FAA aircraft inspectors Charalambe “Bobby” Boutris and Douglas Peters blew the whistle on shoddy maintenance practices at Southwest Airlines. That led to the grounding of thousands of Southwest, American and other airlines’ planes. Boutris and Peters went before the House Transportation Committee in April and gave blistering testimony about how the FAA had abandoned its own aircraft inspection protocols.

At a ceremony Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Boutris and Peters were honored by the Office of Special Counsel for their service to the country.

While accepting his public servant award, Boutris described the retaliation he encountered.

“When I came forward, the next step was to put me under investigation, take my inspector duties away, and tell me I had to stay in my cube and stare at the four walls for six months,” Boutris says.

FAA officials refuse to comment specifically about the allegations of retaliation against any particular whistle-blower. But the agency has acknowledged it has a problem and says that in the past few weeks it has put in place new procedures designed to facilitate reports of unsafe conditions.

FAA spokesperson Diane Spitaliere says the agency has replaced some of the FAA managers at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport with “experienced managers from other facilities.”

Anne Whiteman, a controller who was the first to go public about the problems inside the tower at DFW a decade ago, says it’s no fun being an FAA whistle-blower.

“They did things blatant, they tried to run me off the road,” Whiteman says. “A guy used to knock me down at work all the time. He’d walk by — if nobody was looking, he’d knock me down.”

Whiteman blew the whistle on managers at DFW who were covering up incidents involving aircraft flying too close to one another. They retaliated by declaring her medically unfit for duty. While the top brass of the FAA in Washington now admits it’s had an ongoing problem at DFW, Whiteman says that for her it doesn’t matter, the retaliation in Dallas never stops. After 10 years, she’s worn down.

“I used to say I would do it again; [now I’m] not so sure,” Whiteman says, her voice shaking. “Twice now I’ve been removed from my job. The most recent instance, I was locked in the office. I’ll never be the same ‘ole Annie again. They’ve changed me in many ways. But I do have my pride. I do have a sense that I did the right thing, but I have a whole lot of sadness that I don’t think I would have ever had.”

Whiteman’s account and supporting testimony by witnesses were documented by the federal government. Managers disputed the door was locked.

To be an FAA whistle-blower is to be an outcast. But the dangers they eventually report weigh heavily on their consciences. It is their fear of the soul-crushing guilt they would suffer if the worst actually were to happen — and they had done nothing to stop it.

See Original Article Here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91428378

 

 

By Alan Levin, USA TODAY

May 8, 2008

 

 

WASHINGTON — The manager of the federal office that oversees Southwest Airlines accepted thousands of dollars in free pilot training from the carrier under an arrangement that violates rules of conduct, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.

 

The training program had been approved by regional officials and had been in place for years. The FAA has halted the program because it violates its rules, according to spokeswoman Diane Spitalieri. The FAA would not comment specifically on the supervisor’s training because the matter is “under investigation,” Spitalieri said.

 

FAA manager Bobby Hedlund, who was promoted last year to head the Southwest office, received months of training in 2005 that qualified him to fly the Boeing 737, according to recent testimony before Congress from three current and former FAA officials. Southwest received a proposed $10.2 million fine in March for safety violations.

 

FAA inspectors often receive training to stay abreast of changing technology and airline operations, but the training is mostly done at the FAA’s expense. The free training highlights the continuing cozy relationship between Southwest and some of the government officials who oversee it, said Robert Naccache, who worked in the Southwest office until he retired last year.

 

“This is the most flagrant conflict of interest that I have ever witnessed in my 20-year career in the federal government,” Naccache said during a hearing last month.

 

His testimony was buttressed by Michael Mills, the FAA’s former Southwest manager, and Bobby Boutris, one of two federal whistle-blowers who first raised concerns about Southwest.

 

The training Hedlund received would cost a private citizen $15,000 or more, according to the officials and flight schools. It also would enhance a résumé, opening doors for employment at airlines or other private aviation firms. The FAA officials who testified at the hearing called the arrangement a conflict of interest.

 

The FAA and Southwest have been heavily criticized since a House Transportation Committee hearing April 3 revealed safety breakdowns and attempted retribution against inspectors who enforced the rules.

 

Hedlund did not return several phone calls seeking comment.

 

Southwest confirmed that Hedlund had attended courses at the airline but characterized the training as part of his routine duties. “We certainly don’t agree” that there are any ethical questions with the training, airline spokeswoman Beth Harbin said.

 

Last updated April 14, 2008 8:05 p.m. PT

FAA orders new checks of hundreds of Boeing planes

By DAN CATERINICCHIA
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators ordered inspections Monday for hundreds of Boeing Co. jetliners over potential problems with wing de-icing systems, certain planes’ main landing gear and the oxygen masks used by passengers.

None of the three airworthiness directives were deemed to pose an immediate safety hazard as the Federal Aviation Administration gave the airlines years to comply with each of them. A separate order affecting certain Airbus planes also does not mandate immediate action.

But the latest directives come during a period of unprecedented scrutiny on airline maintenance records that has already forced hundreds of planes to be grounded and thousands of travelers to be inconvenienced, most recently by extra inspections on many jets flown by AMR Corp.’s American Airlines.

The new order affecting the most planes includes repetitive inspections and the possible replacement of main landing gear components on older Boeing 737s used by Delta Air Lines Inc., Continental Airlines Inc., Southwest Airlines, UAL Corp.’s United Airlines and other carriers. It resulted from reports of cracking of certain parts that could damage or jam flight-control cables and result in loss of control of the airplane, according to the government.

The FAA rejected a request from the Air Transport Association, on behalf of United, that the compliance period be extended to 48 months from 36. Compliance will require jacking and de-fueling the aircraft and disassembling the landing gear, the trade group said.

The order, effective May 19, affects 3,130 planes worldwide, including 1,380 in the U.S., and could cost between $5,258 and $6,192 per plane depending on their configuration.

The FAA issued a directive last month on certain 737s after numerous reports of fuel leaks caused by a potentially faulty bolt that required U.S. carriers to get the planes inspected within 90 days of an April 8 effective date. Those safety checks are to detect and fix a bolt that can fall off and puncture the aircraft’s fuel tanks.

Another new order effective May 19 affects Boeing 757s used by a number of domestic carriers and requires repetitive inspections of a wing de-icing system after cracks were found. If left unchecked, the problem could lead to “reduced controllability of the airplane,” according to the FAA, which issues hundreds of airworthiness directives annually.

Northwest Airlines asked the FAA to change the intervals for the repetitive inspections to 24 months from 6,000 flight hours, and to increase to eight hours from two the estimated time needed for inspections. Regulators rejected both requests on that directive, which affects 530 aircraft in the U.S. at an estimated cost of $160 per plane per inspection cycle.

The same Boeing 757s also must be inspected within 60 months to determine the manufacturer and manufacture date of the oxygen masks for use by passengers and crew members after a report that “several passenger masks with broken inline flow indicators were found following a mask deployment.”

If those indicators fractured or separated, it could “inhibit oxygen flow to the masks” used by passengers and cabin attendants, according to the order.

Also effective May 19, it applies to 640 planes in the U.S. with an estimated cost of $1,600 per jet.

The FAA also ordered carriers flying certain Airbus aircraft to reinforce part of the fuselage because of the “potential loss of structural integrity … during extreme rolling and vertical maneuver combinations.” That directive applies to 160 planes in the U.S. and could cost up to $16,160 per aircraft.

Operators, including American, United Parcel Service and FedEx Corp., must make the changes within 2,500 flight cycles of the May 19 effective date.

 

 

TELLS CONGRESS AGENCY VIEWED AIRLINES LIKE “CUSTOMERS”

RATHER THAN COMPANIES TO BE REGULATED

April 3, 2008

 

(CBS/AP) A House committee reported the findings of its investigation into the Federal Aviation Agency’s safety oversight Thursday and heard testimony from airline safety inspectors and the Transportation Department’s inspector general. 

The whistleblowers who exposed maintenance and inspection problems at Southwest Airlines told Congress their jobs were threatened and their reports of noncompliance were ignored for years by their superiors. 
FAA inspector Douglas Peters choked up Thursday at the hearing and needed a few sips of water to tell lawmakers about how a former manager came into his office, commented on pictures of Peters’ family being most important, and then said his job could be jeopardized by his actions. 
Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said FAA managers’ actions displayed “malfeasance bordering on corruption,” adding that if presented to a grand jury, the evidence would result in an indictment.
The Minnesota Democrat led Thursday’s hearing. 

The FAA last month took the rare step of ordering the audit of maintenance records at all domestic carriers following reports of missed safety inspections at Dallas-based Southwest. The airline was hit with a record $10.2 million fine for continuing to fly dozens of Boeing 737s that hadn’t been inspected for cracks in their fuselages. 

Both FAA whistleblowers – Charalambe Boutris and Peters – said the agency views the airlines as its “customers” instead of companies to be regulated. They said the FAA‘s chief maintenance inspector at Southwest, Douglas T. Gawadzinski, knowingly allowed Southwest to keep planes flying that put passengers at risk, and that another inspector knew of the problem and did nothing. 

Gawadzinski is still employed by the FAA, but has no responsibility for safety decisions, said Nicholas Sabatini, the agency’s associate administrator for aviation safety. The FAA will “take whatever action the law will allow” when the investigation into the Southwest episode is complete, he added. 

Gawadzinski was not asked to testify at Thursday’s hearing because he was considered to be a hostile witness who would most likely refuse to answer questions that could have incriminated himself, according to a spokesman for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. 

Chairman Oberstar said as long as the FAA views the airlines as customers “that culture of safety will not take hold and is not going to permeate the organization.” 

Southwest is not the only carrier that has benefited from a “cozy” relationship with regulators, said Tom Brantley, president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union that represents FAA inspectors. 

In testimony prepared for the hearing, Brantley details maintenance and safety issues at United, Continental Airlines Inc., Northwest Airlines Corp., Hawaiian Airlines Inc. and elsewhere where the carriers were given great leeway by the FAA to correct problems that inspectors on the ground said merited more serious attention. Financial penalties for infractions suggested by inspectors against United and other carriers also were ignored or significantly reduced by the time they were assessed, he added. 

Adding to the airline industry’s problems is the growing number of U.S. air travelers who have endured longer lines, more delays and the loss of amenities like meals and blankets. 

And now they are getting hit with a wave of schedule disruptions caused by airlines scrambling amid increased regulatory scrutiny to ensure that the expanding air transport system stays safe. 

The latest complication came Wednesday, when United Airlines temporarily grounded dozens of Boeing 777s to test their cargo fire-suppression systems. 

 
 
 
 

 

 

I think that relationship between the carriers and the FAA has become too cozy.” 

Peter Goalz
former managing director,National Transportation Safety Board

United said it canceled 41 flights and delayed dozens of others as it carried out work on the long-haul jets after a review of maintenance records showed that a test on a bottle in the fire suppression system hadn’t been performed. 

The move affected thousands of passengers around the world, as United’s 777s mostly fly international routes from its major hubs. Among those grounded was a 777 used by many members of the White House press corps, who were traveling with President Bush in Romania – though it wasn’t set to fly again until Friday. 
United, a subsidiary of UAL Corp., said Wednesday that the 777s have “intuitive” self-diagnostic systems that would have detected any malfunction with the fire suppression system. The company said it alerted authorities after the missed test was discovered. 
Testing on all 52 of United’s 777s – 11 percent of its overall fleet – was expected to be completed sometime Thursday. The Chicago-based carrier said 36 of the jets had been inspected and cleared to fly by late afternoon Wednesday. The planes fly mostly from Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Washington Dulles, San Francisco and Los Angeles
United carried out unscheduled maintenance on seven of its Boeing 747 jets last month but said it found no safety-related issues. 

Schedule foul-ups due to inspections have been commonplace since early March, including hundreds of flights canceled last week by American Airlines and Delta Air Lines as they checked wiring bundles on some planes. Stepped-up inspections began when the Federal Aviation Administration ordered a check of maintenance records at all domestic carriers after revelations surfaced about missed safety inspections at Southwest Airlines Co. 

The FAA said Wednesday that four U.S. airlines are under investigation for failing to comply with federal aviation regulations, but would not name the carriers. Officials said three airlines had missed inspection deadlines and that penalties could be levied, though it would be several months before the probe was complete. 

Industry experts warned that passengers can expect more headaches as the FAA and airlines work to guarantee safety amid the rise in air travel – though federal officials are quick to note that this has been one of the safest periods in aviation history. 

The last U.S. crash of a jumbo jet was Nov. 12, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 587 lost part of its tail and plummeted into a New York City neighborhood, killing 265 people.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/03/travel/main3991452.shtml