Audit of FAA inspectors set to begin 18 April

Washington DC
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Officials from the US Department of Transportation's (DOT) inspector general branch plans to commence an audit of FAA inspectors assigned to Part 121 carriers beginning 18 April.

Additionally the DOT is examining FAA operations research analysts that examine air carrier and inspection data to identify risk areas.

The audit was spurred by the fatal February 2009 Colgan Air accident involving a Bombardier Q400 in Buffalo, New York.

While FAA oversight was not cited as a causal factor in the crash, DOT states the tragedy "underscored the need for constant vigilance over aviation safety".

NTSB did conclude that Part 121 operators that experience rapid growth, increased complexity of operations or increased accidents and incidents warrant more stringent oversight.

Colgan was purchased by Pinnacle in January 2007, and from January to June 2008 the company added roughly 15 Q400s to its fleet.

DOT was also tasked by Congress to conduct the review under the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010.

DOT states is has three objectives in the audit - evaluate FAA's process for assigning inspectors and operations research analysts to each Part 121 carrier, assess the number and experience level of inspectors and analysts assigned to the airline and evaluate FAA's use of other surveillance processes to supplement inspections performed by assigned oversight offices.