Dec. 29--As we near the end of another busy holiday air travel season, there's some troubling news that has been flying under the traveling public's radar.
Another terrorist threat? No, but this problem strikes us as being no better than a ticking time bomb on each and every commercial jetliner in the fleets of U.S. carriers.
Most safety inspectors and analysts do not use something called the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing System. That's the conclusion of a report released last week by the Federal Aviation Administration's inspector general, according to The Washington Times.
"Field-level inspectors may be missing important safety information applicable to their assigned air carrier," the IG report says.
Worse, and citing an internal auditor's report, the newspaper says the FAA doesn't even allow its own inspectors to review the data. The IG's report says the program is "years away" from being able to analyze the data gathered. In fact, the agency repeatedly has delayed its deadline for reaching that capability and now hopes to be able to do so by 2019.
Despite the delay, the FAA says the system has led to more than a dozen safety initiatives. But that's not good enough.
Taxpayers already have spent tens of millions of dollars on the system; the FAA seeks $15 million more in 2014. It certainly shouldn't take another five years for the government to figure out how to crunch all the data in pursuit of safer travel for the flying public.
Copyright 2013 - The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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