FAA Chief Says Profits Worry Airlines More Than Safety Does

Associated Press

Federal Aviation Administration chief T. Allan McArtor criticized airline executives Tuesday for worrying too much about profits and losses and not enough about good service, safety and security issues.

But, in a speech summarizing his agency's planned actions to blunt "today's crisis in aviation," he said the FAA also is considering a plan to allow airlines to assume a greater role in inspecting their own maintenance and operational activities.

One suggestion under consideration is that airlines would be exempt from civil penalties if problems are found, corrected and then reported to the FAA, agency sources said.

That approach would break sharply from the FAA's direction in recent years in which it vigorously pursued civil penalties against several airlines and relied heavily on special teams of inspectors conducting surprise inspections of carriers.

'The Same Care'

McArtor said the increased reporting requirements would force airline executives to "show us that the same care and accountability which goes into company financial statements extends to the aircraft maintenance and operations programs."

"I'm concerned that there is too much emphasis on the financial side of the ledger and not enough attention on service, safety and security," he told the Aeo Club of Washington.

McArtor said the airlines should take greater responsibility in finding maintenance and operational problems. He said the FAA is developing a "self-inspection manual" to help airlines "voluntarily identify problems and propose solutions."

Meanwhile, McArtor reiterated the need for increased pilot training, saying he remains "deeply concerned about the rapid rise in pilot errors this year." He has said in the past that the number of pilot errors nearly doubled this year from last year.

McArtor said the FAA plans to issue new regulations soon on pilot training, including how pilots are certified to fly particular aircraft and what kind of training is required in the areas of cockpit coordination and management.

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