Commentary: FAA is damaged by covering up mistakes

This editorial appeared in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

What’s up with the Federal Aviation Administration that has brought about the agency's apparently lax attitude about the safety of air travel in the Dallas-Fort Worth area? How did the agency come to have a "close is good enough" approach here?

The problem drew public attention in March and April with reports that a "cozy relationship" between FAA inspectors and airlines allowed some planes to escape strict inspection and maintenance standards. Hundreds of Southwest Airlines and American Airlines flights were canceled while those planes were re-inspected and brought up to par.

Now further attention has been drawn to a report from the FAA inspector general that, for the second time in three years, the FAA air traffic control operation that handles all flights within 50 miles of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport covered up its own mistakes. In some cases, FAA managers blamed those mistakes on pilots and deliberately allowed culpable air traffic controllers to escape responsibility, the report says.

Last week, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel sent a letter to President George W. Bush about the cover-up. The office said in a prepared statement that the air traffic control problems "highlighted a pattern of persistent, dangerous mismanagement . . . warranting further scrutiny and investigation."

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.