July 17, 2008

Bipartisan Bill Would Bring FAA Changes

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a bill Tuesday aimed at ending the Federal Aviation Administration's sometimes cozy relationship with the airline industry and reversing purported complacency on safety oversight.

Several House Democrats and Republicans led by Public Works and Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., said they were introducing the bill to force changes on the FAA that the agency has been reluctant to make on its own.

"We don't trust the FAA to do this on their own, and that's without regard to whatever administration is in place," Oberstar said.

The bill would:

* Create an independent Aviation Safety Whistleblower Investigation Office within the FAA that would investigate safety complaints.

* Direct the FAA to stop treating airlines as customers and halt the practice of allowing airlines to choose which FAA inspectors will inspect their operations.

* Set a two-year "cooling off period" before FAA inspectors or FAA employees who supervise inspectors can go to work for an airline.

- The Associated Press

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