For the third consecutive day, American Airlines canceled flights to perform inspections on older MD-80 jets. Some of their MD-80s have had landing gear problems that disable the anti-icing systems. It follows whistle blower revelations from FAA inspectors that both FAA managers and Southwest Airlines were allowing aircraft to fly that had not passed mandatory safety inspections.
Oberstar and the whistle-blowers charged the FAA, the federal agency tasked with watching over the airlines, has become too cozy with the industry it oversees, putting the interests of the airlines ahead of those of the traveling public.
According to CNN (my emphasis), “American Airlines canceled more than 900 flights Thursday as it continues to perform safety inspections on certain jets” and “Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines also have canceled a number of flights in recent weeks for safety checks.”
However, the same article also says that (my emphasis), “Roger Frizzell, an airline spokesman, said the inspections involve technical compliance as opposed to flight safety.”
So which is it: safety or technical compliance? Do you really believe an airline that’s losing money every time they cancel a flight is merely doing it for “technical compliance?” And isn’t “technical compliance” related to safety anyway?
According to this article (my emphasis):
But this week, Federal Aviation Administration inspectors, who have been conducting stepped-up surveys of compliance with safety rules called airworthiness directives, said 15 of 19 American jets they examined flunked. That left the airline no choice but to ground all 300 of its MD-80s, the most common jet in its 655-plane fleet.
So it apparently is about safety after all.
It’s assumed that any business (including airlines) will cut corners to make more profit and the slimmer their margins (which have to be razor thin considering fuel prices), the more likely they are to cut corners. And apparently FAA management was letting the airlines slide, in spite of reports from FAA inspectors that the airlines were ignoring safety regulations.
What’s wrong with this picture?