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Paper's probe show planes with maintenance problems have flown anyway

Staff Report • Feb 2, 2010 at 12:00 AM

An investigation by USA Today shows that during the past six years, millions of passengers have been on at least 65,000 U.S. airline flights that shouldn't have taken off because planes weren't properly maintained.The investigation reveals that substandard repairs, unqualified mechanics and lax oversight by airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are not unusual. "Many repairs are not being done or done properly, and too many flights are leaving the ground in what the FAA calls 'unairworthy,' or unsafe, condition," says John Goglia, a former airline mechanic who was a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member from 1995 to 2004.Airlines contract about 70% of their maintenance work to repair shops in the USA and abroad, where mistakes can be made by untrained and ill-equipped personnel, the Department of Transportation's inspector general says. Airlines also disregard FAA inspectors' findings to keep planes flying, defer necessary repairs beyond permissible time frames, use unapproved parts and perform their own sloppy maintenance work, according to FAA documents.Read the full report at the USA Today Web site.

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