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Mon, May 03, 2004

Congressmen Want Study Into Regional Flights

GAO To Look At FAA's Oversight

Congressmen James Oberstar, (D-MN) and Peter DeFazio, (D-OR) want a closer look at regional airline safety, in the wake of the January, 2003 crash of an Air Midwest Beechcraft 1900 just after it departed the runway at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The NTSB blames the accident on poor mechanical work done by a Raytheon subcontractor, as well as problems with the aircraft's weight and balance. Maintenance was also blamed for the downing of a Colgan Air flight off Cape Cod (MA) eight months later.

While regional airlines like Air Midwest and Colgan have to follow the same general guidelines as do major carriers, their maintenance is inferior, according to the two congressmen. Mechanics who work for the regionals make about 55 percent less money than do their counterparts at the majors, they said. The Charlotte Observer reports, while regional airlines carry only 37 percent of the nation's passenger traffic, they account for 67 percent of the FAA's maintenance actions.

DeFazio and Oberstar said in their letter requesting an investigation of the FAA's regional airline oversight, even in the wake of 9/11, "It is incumbent on us to ensure that appropriate attention and resources are being applied to aviation safety."

In reply, the Regional Airline Association issued a statement to ANN, saying its members provide "the highest level of safety for passengers and employees."



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