Coalition Urges Congress To Act on Airline Safety

Ongoing cancellations of flights by major U.S. airlines underscore a growing crisis in U.S. regulatory oversight of airline-maintenance programs and practices, according to Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition (BTC). To date, United, American, Southwest and Delta have been impacted.

Mitchell is asking for industry-wide support for an appeal to House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) urging a top-down, independent review of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which regulates airlines.

The BTC says the review should include the FAA’s mission, organizational structure, funding, culture and systemic problems. The BTC is encouraging Congress to consider a directive to the National Academy of Sciences and Transportation Research Board to perform the review.

The BTC contrasts the speed and efficiency of response to maintenance problems when performed at U.S. maintenance bases to carriers who outsource maintenance in other countries.

American’s and Delta’s fast response to problems with their MD-80’s fleets, the BTC says, gave FAA personnel ongoing access to maintenance staff, supervisors, aircraft log-books, engineers and maintenance control. BTC said this compares favorably to out-of-country maintenance.

The BTC asserts that in-country maintenance also allows the FAA to respond quickly. For the airlines, overseas maintenance is cheaper but allows less oversight for safety. The BTC offers extensive background on the security and safety issues involved—including the text of the letter to Congressman Oberstar online at