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Klobuchar urges stronger airline safety enforcement

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. Amy Klobuchar called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today to do a better job of enforcing safety regulations for both regional airlines and major carriers.

“Many Minnesotans rely on regional jets to connect them to each other and to the world,” Klobuchar said in a statement after the hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee.  “And these passengers should be as safe on a regional carrier going from Minneapolis to Bemidji or to Duluth as they would be on a Boeing 767 flying from Los Angeles to New York.”

At the hearing, lawmakers and aviation experts discussed safety concerns including oversight, pilot fatigue, inadequate pilot training and non-essential talk between pilots during takeoffs and landings -- a possible factor in the recent Colgan Air Flight crash in Buffalo, NY.

Some major airlines also have records of skimping on plane maintenance, according to Klobuchar’s office.

FAA inspectors disclosed last year that Southwest Airlines had continued to fly airplanes even though critical safety checks involving cracks in aircraft fuselages had not been performed on about 50 jets. Additionally, American Airlines canceled nearly 2,000 flights in order to catch up on inspections of aircraft wiring -- inspections that should have already been performed, according to Klobuchar’s office.

Klobuchar, who sits on the Commerce Committee, has co-authored legislation with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, that seeks to strengthen airline safety rules and FAA oversight. On Wednesday, Klobuchar called on the Senate to pass the Aviation Inspection Safety Act.

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