Congress takes up airplane safety

Marketplace Staff Apr 3, 2008
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Congress takes up airplane safety

Marketplace Staff Apr 3, 2008
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TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Today, Congress will hear about the safety of passenger jets. There’s a hearing recently because of missed inspections or safety issues. In fact, yesterday, United Airlines grounded its fleet of Boeing 777’s. Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler has more.


Jeff Tyler: During past economic downturns, the airline industry has treated maintenance like a sacred cow. But Kevin Mitchell with the Business Travel Coalition says standards have changed.

Kevin Mitchell: Today, at most of these major carriers, everything is on the table, including maintenance.

Instead of doing maintenance at their own facilities in the U.S., he says airlines increasingly outsource the work to non-certified repair stations around the world. Federal regulators allow these shops to do so-called “mission critical” work. But Mitchell says the FAA doesn’t track how many there are, what work they do, nor which airlines use their services.

Mitchell: So that’s an example where the FAA is just turning its head and letting this go on. And it’s absolutely egregious.

A new FAA safety audit revealed that airlines complied with its maintenance directives 99 percent of the time. The agency has also put forth its own plans for raising inspection standards.

I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

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