Report on air-safety checks nears finish
( USA TODAY) - The General Accounting Office (news - web sites) expects to report next spring on its investigation this year into the role of thousands of private companies that perform aircraft safety inspections on behalf of the government.
"We are at the last throes of gathering data," said Gerald Dillingham, the GAO's director of civil aviation issues.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., requested the investigation after a USA TODAY story on Feb. 17 reported that private U.S. companies - rather than Federal Aviation Administration (news - web sites) inspectors - had certified the safety of an interactive entertainment system on a Swissair jet that crashed in September 1998.
The newspaper's story, DeFazio said in a letter to the GAO, suggested "the aviation industry was supervising itself without adequate controls and oversight by FAA."
The FAA said, after the crash, that the system's design and installation were unsafe and banned it. This year, Canadian aviation-safety investigators reported that wiring from either the ntertainment system or another system caused the accident.
The FAA has relied on designees for years to compensate for shortages in inspectors and a growing workload. The number has grown steadily since the 1970s, and more than 5,000 designees now act on behalf of the agency.
Critics charge that designees may not be impartial certifiers, because they are hired and paid by the companies that want their products certified.
USA TODAY reported that FAA oversight of the Swissair project was lax and that the agency said its "designees" didn't follow certification procedures.
GAO officials say they are not investigating any of the companies or individuals involved in manufacturing, installing or certifying the Swissair entertainment system. "The scope of our review is to take a broad review of the designee program," said Teresa Spisak, the GAO's assistant director for civil aviation.
The entertainment system on the Swissair jet was manufactured by now-defunct Interactive Flight Technologies, a Phoenix-based company. Two former IFT employees said in March that the company brushed off workers' concerns about the entertainment system's safety, long before the accident.
quote:Thanks CD, that's very interesting. I'm anxious to see that report. My understanding is that the GAO does not investigate responsible individuals but mainly writes reports and recommendations. I think the IG of the DOT does the investigating if any is to be done.
Also here is the link to that article in USA Today:
Thanks again CD.
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