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September 16, 2009 - FAA Failures Cited in Air Charter Crashes

Failures in oversight by U.S. aviation regulators have been highlighted in at least six recent charter jet and small airliner crashes, documents indicate.

Official records show the Federal Aviation Administration failed to identify illegal charter flights, didn't spot egregious pilot training violations and did not ground unairworthy aircraft, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Accident files and investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board cite FAA oversight failures present in the accidents between 2003 and 2008 involving for-hire air carriers, the newspaper said, noting that the flights accounted for 249 deaths. Only 107 people died aboard large commercial airliners during the same period.

"We've got serious violations of the public trust," said a former NTSB board member.

FAA Flight Standards Service director John Allen would not address the specific accidents with the newspaper, but asserted the agency's inspections of charter operators is "thorough," adding that it's hard to cite such carriers unless agency inspectors see illegal acts.

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