Cost cutting decisions by an airline can compromise the safety of passengers and airline personnel. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered an increase in safety checks of American Airlines and its affiliate to ensure that the company’s financial difficulties do not lead to aviation accidents. The inspections are geared toward the areas where an airline might be tempted to save money, such as employee cutbacks during non-peak hours and pilot training. The orders to increase safety checks were given shortly after the company filed for bankruptcy.
The FAA has stepped up safety inspections on other airlines when they went through similar financial straits. While prior safety inspections have revealed no change in the number of airplane injuries or accidents, it stands to reason that an airline fighting for its survival might be tempted to place a greater emphasis on saving money than on the safety of its passengers and employees. The FAA is combating this potential by enhancing its review of all maintenance programs, airline personnel, reporting and records and other key areas of operation.
The additional inspections may place a greater strain on the relationship between the FAA and American Airlines. The FAA is currently in a dispute with the airline over penalties it levied concerning improper maintenance work done in 2010. The airline denies any wrongdoing in that matter and is contesting the penalty.
American Airlines responded to the call for additional safety inspections by promising that it will continue to follow all safety and maintenance regulations. Safety is a serious concern for all airline passengers. The effort made by the FAA to protect the flying public from being placed at risk due to this bankruptcy filing is well worth it. Those who have already purchased tickets to fly on American Airlines or its commuter affiliate, American Eagle, should feel safer knowing that the FAA is ensuring that current safety guidelines are being upheld.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “FAA to Swiftly Step Up Safety Inspection of American Airlines, Affiliate,” by Andy Pasztor, 29 November 2011