Watchdog Says FAA Inspector Ignored American Airlines Safety Problems

Jul 12, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration ignored safety complaints after developing a cozy relationship with American Airlines managers, a recently surfaced government watchdog report says.

The US Department of Transportation Inspector General says the FAA inspector, assigned to American for 28 years, failed to act on legitimate complaints on how the carrier assessed the safety of its aircraft after they had undergone maintenance. The federal inspector had also gone on an overseas trip with a manager from the airline, the report found.

Federal regulations require airlines to test planes’ airworthiness after significant repairs or other maintenance work, otherwise known as a flight test program. Safety issues were raised to the FAA against American’s flight test program, including “the use of unqualified pilots,” the report says.

The DOT watchdog group found the FAA’s oversight of American Airlines “lacked objectivity.”

The safety complaints against American were raised by the Allied Pilots Association, the union that represents the airline’s pilots, and went unaddressed for more than a year and a half. After the DOT Inspector General raised concerns about compliance, the FAA opened an audit of American’s flight test program in the fall of 2017. That audit found that the program was not following the airline’s written manuals, which violates regulations. As a result, the FAA reassigned the inspector.

The FAA inspector was not named in the report and has since retired from the institution.

TPG reached out to the FAA for more information, and we were referred to the agency’s response included in the DOT’s report. “The FAA has initiated several safety enhancements to the American Airlines Flight Test Operations Program,” the FAA says in its response. “New initiatives include the establishment of a Safety Analysis Team comprised of all relevant stakeholders, and the development of a new Risk Management Process.”

The FAA also says that it will begin implementing the watchdog’s recommendations by October 2018, and it expects all of the DOT’s recommendations to be fully implemented by June 2019.

“American welcomes the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report of FAA oversight into American’s Flight Test program a maintenance ferry flight and aircraft evaluation program,” the airline said in a statement emailed to TPG. “While these flights do not carry passengers, the safety of our crew members is paramount.”

“Last fall, we placed the Flight Test group under new leadership and began a top-to-bottom internal review,” the AA statement continued. “Shortly after, the FAA began its own independent review. American has been working with the FAA and the Allied Pilots Association (APA) to address concerns that were raised in these reviews. Last week, we notified the FAA that we have taken action to address and implement nearly all of the recommendations made in order to follow best practices and strengthen the safety of the program.”

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.