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New FAA rule bans airlines from hiring aircraft inspectors

August 24, 2011, 04:40 pm

A new U.S. Federal Aviation Administration rule recently enacted will prohibit airline operators and other aviation organizations from employing or otherwise developing a close relationship with safety inspectors and overseers. If an inspector leaves the FAA, they cannot be hired by an airline for two years, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

In 2008, the source notes, the FAA accused Southwest Airlines of operating some 60,000 flights without properly inspecting aircraft. A subsequent investigation and report found that the airline had fostered an "overly collaborative" relationship with airplane inspectors. The FAA estimated that of the 163 inspectors who left the FAA from October 2008 - October 2009, 125 were subsequently employed improperly according to the new rules.

“The flying public can rest assured that our aviation safety inspectors will remain focused on protecting the flying public without any conflicts of interest,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

For pilots, the commercial airline industry is expanding, despite the well-documented woes the industry has suffered in the wake of the economic crisis. Somewhat surprisingly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that employment for commercial pilots will increase by 19 percent by 2018.

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