Alana Wise and David Shepardson
(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday said it was conducting an audit of the Federal Aviation Administration's maintenance oversight of American Airlines and Allegiant Air, a budget carrier whose safety standards have come under scrutiny.
"Our objectives now are to assess FAA's processes for investigating allegations of improper maintenance practices at two carriers, Allegiant Airlines and American Airlines," the department's inspector general's office wrote in a memo.
The memo followed a recent CBS "60 Minutes" report that questioned Allegiant's safety standards and the FAA's oversight of the airline. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida called for an investigation in the wake of the report.
"The traveling public deserves to know the whole story when it comes to the FAA’s oversight of airline maintenance," Nelson said in a statement. "I expect the inspector general to leave no stone unturned."
It was not immediately clear why the Department of Transportation was focusing on American Airlines. Neither American Airlines nor Allegiant was immediately available for comment.
The FAA said it will work with the inspector general. After the "60 Minutes" report the FAA said: "The commercial aviation system in the United States operates at an unprecedented level of safety.
The FAA has zero tolerance for intentional, reckless behavior, flagrant violations, or refusal to cooperate in corrective action by air carriers. When warranted, the agency routinely takes legal enforcement action against violators."
Shares of Allegiant were down 3.23 percent in midday trading. American's share price slipped 2.2 percent, extending a 19.11 percent year-to-date decline.
(Reporting by Alana Wise and David Shepardson; Editing by Paul Simao and Bill Trott)
Link to the Senate document…