Friday, July 23, 2010

Report: Northwest repeatedly failed to follow safety orders

For more than a decade, Northwest Airlines repeatedly failed to follow federal safety orders but wasn't held accountable by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to a government report.

The report by the Transportation Department's inspector general's office confirmed many of the allegations brought by a whistle-blower in 2005 and again in 2008 of a cozy relationship between FAA managers and the airlines they are charged with inspecting.

FAA inspector Mark Lund charged that FAA managers at the safety office that oversaw Northwest routinely allowed the airline to avoid penalties or fines by voluntarily disclosing failures.

In response, the FAA headquarters initiated a national review of safety order compliance at major airlines in 2008 that found 14 instances in a four-month period in which Northwest didn't comply with safety orders, one of the highest of all the airlines reviewed, the IG report said.

The failure to comply with FAA safety orders continued even after FAA's review, the report said. There were eight more instances in which Northwest didn't carry out safety orders in the budget year ending on Sept. 30 2009, the report said. The FAA office overseeing the airline closed five of those cases without recommending penalties or fines.

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