Government officials have blocked enforcement of safety rules at major airlines for years because they have a cozy relationship with the companies, according to the testimony of U.S. inspectors who will appear before Congress Thursday. The testimony alleges for the first time that inspectors have been pressured by FAA officials to change findings or to soft-pedal enforcement actions for several of the nation’s largest airlines, including Northwest, United and Continental, reports USA Today.
The inspectors claim FAA officials were often more concerned with airline profit margins than safety and made them work under the specter of intimidation, according to the testimony. Thursday’s hearing before the House Transportation Committee was prompted by two whistle-blowers who charged that their bosses at the FAA had prevented them from enforcing serious safety matters at Southwest a year ago. The FAA issued a $10.2 million fine against Southwest last month for intentionally flying jets that had not received critical inspections and acknowledged that its inspectors had not acted properly.