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FAA should follow through

July 6, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

Heaters used to warm windows in some Boeing airliners malfunction, sometimes catching fire and forcing pilots to make emergency landings.

The problem is nothing new; the National Transportation Safety Board asked that something be done about it years ago. In 2004, the Federal Aviation Administration promised NTSB officials it would require that repairs be made.

But such action has not been taken, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

Electrical shorts and/or fires in airliner cockpits are serious business. The malfunctioning heaters have resulted in a variety of problems, according to the AP. They have included situations in which pilots were sprayed with glass from breaking windows.

Why, then, has the FAA not ordered that airlines repair the malfunctioning heaters? The question is one the NTSB is asking. "There is no shortage of information (about the hazard). In fact, there's no shortage of incidents," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman told the AP. "What's missing is the will to do something about it."

An FAA spokesman told the AP the agency hopes to issue a final order on the repairs next month. We certainly hope so. If that does not happen, President Barack Obama and, if necessary, Congress, should start asking questions about why the nation's top airline safety agency is not doing its job in a timely manner.



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