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FAA removes manager responsible for safety oversight of Southwest Airlines news
09 April 2008

As the latest fallout emerging from the controversy related to the US FAA's supervision of its airworthiness directives (AD) by airlines, the regulatory body has now been forced to remove its Thomas Stuckey, manager-flight standards, southwest region, from his position. Stuckey has been removed over his culpability related to the oversight of Southwest Airlines.

Southwest was found to have been operating aircraft for a period of time in violation of the agency's airworthiness directives.

Last week, at Congressional hearings, the FAA's Dallas area office was portrayed as being dysfunctional and plagued by "regulatory abuse."

Stuckey was accused by inspectors from the FAA's Southwest Airline's Certificate Management Office (SWA CMO) of ignoring their repeated complaints that their supervisors were "looking the other way" when confronted with evidence that the airline was not complying with airworthiness directives. The inspectors further alleged that supervisors harassed and threatened to terminate those who wanted to report safety lapses.

The FAA's Certificate Management Offices (CMO) specialise in the certification, surveillance, and inspection of major air carriers.

Douglas Peters, an inspector in the SWA CMO, told lawmakers that there was an "intentional and blatant disregard for national policy" at the CMO. "The fact that FAA management knew about these issues in the Southwest field office is undisputed," he alleged. "I don't see how the FAA can be trusted to police itself."

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) said the agency's problems are more pervasive. "The FAA would have us believe that what took place was an isolated incident that has been corrected," he said. "Clearly this is not an isolated incident. . .but rather a systematic breakdown of the FAA's oversight role. It is malfeasance bordering on corruption."

At the Congressional hearings it also emerged that until its recent audit of domestic airlines' compliance with ADs, the FAA hadn't conducted a review of SWA's AD compliance programme since 1999, even though such a review is required at least once every five years.

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FAA removes manager responsible for safety oversight of Southwest Airlines