US agency probes safety oversight of American Airlines

New York (AFP) –


US transportation officials are investigating the Federal Aviation Administration's oversight of American Airlines as part of a broader review of the agency, officials said Wednesday.

The investigation is being conducted by the Transportation Department's inspector general and comes on the heels of a critical report on the news show "60 Minutes" about low-cost carrier Allegiant and the FAA's hands-off approach despite a number of in-flight breakdowns.

But that report did not mention American Airlines, and the airline said it was "shocked" to learn of the review, according to spokesman Ross Feinstein.

"Our team is working to understand why we are part of its review. We welcome all oversight from the federal agencies involved in ensuring the safety of the traveling public and are proud of our partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration," Feinstein said.

The probe will examine complaints to the FAA and improper maintenance alleged at American Airlines and Allegiant Air, CNBC reported.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson asked the inspector general to investigate how the FAA oversees airline safety following the "60 Minutes" report.

An FAA spokesperson said the agency welcomed the "examination of the FAA's comprehensive oversight system."

"This system is designed to identify potential risks before they become serious problems and ensure that corrective action is taken. The process is dynamic and requires that the FAA, and the airlines we oversee, constantly strive for safety improvements."

Shares of American Airlines tumbled 3.5 percent to $41.50. Other carriers including United Continental, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines also fell.