Independent panel finds 'remarkable' differences in way FAA offices approach their work

The controversy that erupted in the spring over the way FAA airline-maintenance inspectors were doing their jobs at Southwest and American led to the appointment of an independent panel of experts to evaluate the situation. In a report issued yesterday, the panel found big differences from one regional office to another. In general, the panel that the FAA's approach to inspections, allowing largely voluntary compliance with airworthiness directives, is effective. As you would expect, the airlines were fairly pleased with the findings. For more detail, read today's stories from the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times.