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Watchdog: FAA safety initiatives lagging

WASHINGTON — A year after a regional airliner crashed into a house near Buffalo, N.Y., killing 50 people, the government has failed to implement most of the safety reforms it promised in response to the accident, a government watchdog said Thursday.

Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel said the Federal Aviation Administration has fallen behind schedule or failed to meet goals on eight of 10 measures the agency said it would take, including new regulations to prevent pilot fatigue and better inspection of training for regional airline pilots.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said the law requires the FAA to go through a long process before adopting new regulations.

The Feb. 12, 2009, crash, many experts say, pointed to a lower level of safety for smaller regional airlines that make short-haul flights for larger carriers.

Regional carrier Colgan Air Inc. of Manassas, Va., was operating the flight for Continental Airlines. The National Transportation Safety Board has said pilot error caused the crash. The captain was Marvin Renslow, 47, of Lutz.

Scovel said that while the FAA stepped up pilot-training inspections, its inspectors didn't have the background they needed, the inspection program was flawed and important questions were not asked. For example, FAA inspectors observed more than 2,400 airline-conducted tests of pilot skills, but they didn't ask airlines whether the pilots actually passed the tests, he said.

Scovel also said the FAA missed a self-imposed deadline to propose new pilot fatigue regulations. Fatigue was among the errors cited Tuesday by the NTSB in its investigation of Flight 3407.

Watchdog: FAA safety initiatives lagging 02/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2010 10:19pm]
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