Damage Control at FAA

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: A day after it grounded ValuJet, the Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged, with a veiled mea culpa, that it never moved quickly enough to regulate low-cost air carriers. As unflattering details have emerged about its oversight of ValuJet before the airline's DC-9 crash May 11, the FAA on Tuesday tried to calm the public and forestall further criticism by announcing a policy of tighter airline inspections and forcing its top regulatory officer to retire this month. Too little, too late? Probably. TIME aviation correspondent Jerry Hannifin reports that the May 11 crash has set off a series of investigations and reviews that could well result in the most serious institutional changes to the FAA since its creation in 1958. As a first step, Administrator David Hinson says the FAA will rewrite rules for air carriers that purchase maintenance services from outside contractors. The FAA will also replace Anthony Broderick, an associate adminstrator, who will retire at month's end. At the same conference, Transportation Secretary Fredrico Pena said he would ask Congress to change the FAA's charter to remove promotion of air travel from its mission, making airline safety its sole focus.

The changes come after an intensive 30-day review of ValuJet's maintenance operations revealed serious deficiencies missed -->