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Posted on Mar 18, 2008 in Across the US, Congress, Economy, Government, International

FAA now checks safety records, I can’t believe it.

Call me naive, but as a frequent flyer there are many things that I have just assumed about airline safety and the procedures of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Among these assumptions is the understanding that when I get on to an airplane, one of the many government regulations that will be a part of my flying experience will be a complementary flight safety check, something I figured to be the governments way of making me less annoyed that I couldn’t take my toothpaste on the plane because it was 1oz over sized and could potentially bring down a 747.

To my surprise, it appears that I, and probably millions of other travelers have been fooled by making these assumptions.

From CNN.com:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The nation’s air safety watchdog ordered its inspectors Tuesday to confirm that airlines are complying with federal rules after revelations that Southwest Airlines flew dozens of aircraft without certain mandatory inspections.

Federal Aviation Administration inspectors have been given 10 days to ensure that airlines are complying with 10 airworthiness directives — orders to check or correct a known unsafe condition — and to expand the review to include more directives thereafter.

The action comes after CNN, citing detailed congressional documents obtained in an investigation, revealed this month that Southwest Airlines flew at least 117 of its planes in violation of mandatory safety checks.

Ok, mazel tov to the FAA for taking action against Southwest, but isn’t this something that should have been part of their procedure from the beginning?

Furthermore, it seems as if the FAA is surprised by these findings. Do they not realize that some airlines are now outsourcing some of their repairs to China? Do they not realize that many of the airline union’s are continually at the negotiation tables threatening strikes? How could they not assume that there would be discrepencies in these “routine” safety checks.

I have an extremely hard time understanding why this enforcement is just coming to the table. Why did it have to take an investigation from a third party to find some of the biggest loopholes?

What this shows is one of the many weaknesses in relying on the government to get things done and ensure a certain standard. More importantly, this highlights the fact that a non-government entity can be much more effective in finding weaknesses than any agency created by the government.