Whistleblower correct, Northwest did not follow safety regs

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A government report upholds the allegations of an FAA whistleblower who charged Northwest Airlines had a cozy relationship with FAA managers.

The report by the Transportation Department's inspector general's office confirms many of the charges by Federal Aviation Administration inspector Mark Lund who said Northwest repeatedly failed to follow safety orders but wasn't held accountable, The Associated Press reports.

Lund had charged that FAA managers routinely allowed Northwest to avoid penalties or fines in exchange for voluntarily disclosing failures. He reported the odd relationship in 2005 and again in 2008.

Northwest merged with Delta Air Lines last year, creating the world's largest airline, and now flies as Delta.

In response to Lund's charges, the FAA began a national review of safety order compliance at major airlines in 2008 and found 14 instances in a four-month period where Northwest did not comply with safety orders, the report says.

Shockingly, the non-compliance continued even after the FAA's review.

In one case, in fiscal year 2009, Northwest had to ground 27 planes it had not inspected for landing gear parts as required by a safety order, but did not receive a penalty or fine.

The IG report says the status of Northwest's compliance with more than 1,000 safety orders is "unknown," given that the problems continued.

"We are currently reviewing the documents and, as always, we will fully cooperate with the government agencies to ensure our core values of safety, quality and compliance are not compromised," Delta spokesman Anthony Black, tells AP.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown says the agency "has taken corrective action on the issues identified in the whistleblower complaint and is continuing to monitor compliance."

Lund, meanwhile, has "taken a lot of abuse," since going public, Linda Goodrich, vice president of Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, the union that represents FAA inspectors, tells AP.

The special counsel's office, which is required to report its findings to the president, said in a letter to the White House this week that most of Lund's allegations have largely been substantiated, AP reports.

The IG report suggests the FAA conduct another major inspection of Northwest's operations, independent of Delta.

Photo, Act Ook, flickr
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