DOT Review Team Points the Way to FAA

 - September 11, 2008, 12:01 PM

The Department of Transportation yesterday publicly released an Independent Review Team report summarizing its study of the FAA’s safety culture, including a recommendation that appears to address one of the biggest complaints operators have about the FAA: inconsistent application of regulations. The ninth of 13 recommendations calls for the agency to train managers and principal inspectors on “contrasting regulatory views within the workforce, methods for moderating extremes in regulatory style and methods for optimizing the regulatory effectiveness and coherence across a diverse team of inspectors.” The report also reiterated that “the FAA should retain the right to ground any plane not in compliance with an applicable AD.” The FAA, it added, “should provide timely information about new AD requirements, in advance of compliance dates, to all relevant FAA field offices.” It is not clear why the DOT emphasized this point because the FAA subscribes to digitally distributed AD and regulatory databases that presumably reach FAA offices at the same time as they arrive at operators’ computers. Other recommendations addressed voluntary disclosure programs, suggesting they be retained and strengthened. An interesting recommendation is that “the FAA should explicitly focus on wide divergences in regulatory ideologies, where they exist, as a source for potentially serious error.”