Probe finds FAA hid Dallas airport safety errors

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Transportation Department investigation has confirmed that Federal Aviation Administration officials covered up safety errors at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

A spokeswoman for the department's inspector general says a report of the investigation's findings should be released tomorrow. She confirmed the general findings as outlined in documents released late today by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

The report was requested by the Special Counsel, which says in a letter to the White House that FAA managers at the Texas airport misclassified air traffic problems as being caused by pilots in an attempt to shift blame away from air traffic controllers.

The inspector general previously had confirmed a similar underreporting of safety errors at the airport in 2004. After that incident, FAA officials promised to take steps to fix the problem.

The continued problem at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport became public only because a whistle-blower -- controller supervisor Anne Whiteman, who first reported in 2004 that agency officials were concealing safety violations -- came forward again last year.

At that point, she said FAA managers were still underreporting safety violations by controllers or misreporting them as pilot errors.

Ten corrective measures were recommended in the inspector general's report and FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency already has implemented all of those recommendations that don't relate to personnel matters -- which she says she's prohibited from discussing.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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