Airlines can’t hire ex-FAA inspectors for 2 years

By JOAN LOWY – Associated Press | AP – Fri, Aug 19, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Safety inspectors will be barred for two years after leaving the Federal Aviation Administration from going to work for an airline they oversaw under a new rule intended to prevent ethics abuses.

The FAA said Friday the rule responds to concerns raised in 2008 by Congress and the Transportation Department’s inspector general that managers in the safety office that oversee Southwest Airlines allowed planes to make nearly 60,000 flights without required safety inspections.

An investigation found that Southwest had hired a former FAA inspector who had a close relationship with managers in the safety office where he formerly worked.

Southwest agreed to a $7.5 million fine in the case.

Separately, the FAA also proposed new rules for regional airlines intended to prevent accidents caused by ice buildups.

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