The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued a final rule that prohibits air carriers and other certificate holders from employing certain former FAA aviation safety inspectors as company representatives to the agency for a period of two years after they have left the agency.
“The flying public can rest assured that our aviation safety inspectors will remain focused on protecting the flying public without any conflicts of interest,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“This rule establishes clear restrictions that will improve our safety culture here at the FAA and throughout the aviation industry,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.
Certificate holders will be prohibited under certain conditions from employing, or making a contractual arrangement with, certain individuals who have worked for the FAA in the previous two years to act as an agent or a representative in any matter before the FAA.
These restrictions will apply if the former FAA employee directly served as or was responsible for the oversight of a Flight Standards Service aviation safety inspector and had direct responsibility to inspect, or oversee the inspection of, the operations of the certificate holder. This rule will also apply to persons who own or manage fractional ownership program aircraft that are used to conduct certain commercial operations.
This final rule follows a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which was published on November 20, 2009. The overall economic impact will be minimal. The rule can be viewed at: http://archives.gov/federal-register/public-inspection/
Today’s rule responds to concerns raised by Congress and the DOT Inspector General in 2008 about the FAA’s oversight of Southwest Airlines. The DOT Inspector General concluded that that the FAA office overseeing the airline had developed an overly close relationship with the airline and recommended that the FAA create post-employment guidance that includes a “cooling-off” period to prohibit an air carrier from hiring an aviation safety inspector who previously inspected that air carrier.