American Airlines facing safety audit by FAA

Federal inspectors will soon begin poring over American Airlines' operational data, manuals and other records as part of a lengthy review of safety at the Fort Worth-based carrier.

The in-depth examination comes at a time when a spate of aviation accidents, including a deadly crash in Buffalo, N.Y., and a spectacular water landing in New York City, has some passengers worried as they board airplanes.

The audit will begin next month, said American spokesman Tim Wagner. It will primarily involve a detailed review of safety data, including evaluation of maintenance and flight manuals, records and other documents, rather than inspections of airplanes, said Alison Duquette, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman.

She said the agency is putting its team of investigators together and is working with American officials on how to best conduct the audit.

Last year, after being criticized for lax standards during a congressional hearing, the FAA grounded jets at American, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and others for emergency inspections.

"We told Congress last year that we would be doing some focused audits of the major air carriers," Duquette said. The FAA has already completed similar reviews at Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and Houston-based Continental Airlines.

The review will look at all aspects of American's operations, including flight, ground operations and maintenance.

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