July 2, 2008

U.S.: FAA, Southwest Risked Fliers’ Safety

U.S. officials said Southwest Airlines passengers were put at risk by an overly collaborative relationship between the airline and federal regulators.

The Inspector General's Office of the Department of Transportation issued a report Wednesday concluding that the Federal Aviation Administration's relationship with Southwest jeopardized the safety of thousands of Southwest customers, The Washington Post reported.

The FAA acknowledged this year its inspectors improperly allowed the airlines to operate 45 Boeing 737 jets that were in need of inspection for possible fuselage cracks.

The report issued Wednesday included proposals for increased government supervision of FAA safety programs and also proposed a cooling off period during which FAA inspectors could not go to work for airlines they inspected for the FAA.

The FAA issued a statement calling the inspector general's report extremely helpful and saying many of the report's findings are already being implemented, the Post said.

The inspector general's office is said to be looking into the relationship between FAA inspectors and American Airlines.