The FAA’s customers are …?

In case there was any question, the general public, not airlines, makes up the Federal Aviation Administration’s customers.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt clarified that last week in announcing the agency’s “new focus” on improving how it responds to “public safety complaints and whistleblower contributions.”

“These changes make it clear that the FAA’s number-one customer is the public,” Babbitt said, according to a news release. “We value the safety information we receive from our employees, the public and industry, and these actions reinforce that. We know we can improve how we all communicate technical safety information so we maintain a safe U.S. fleet and avoid flight cancellations wherever possible.”

Among the changes, is a newly established Office of Audit and Evaluation, which is charged with handling whistleblower contributions and public safety complaints.

Meanwhile, the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) and FlyersRights.org appreciated that the FAA is no longer referring to airlines as customers of the agency, but, it doesn’t go far enough.

“BTC and FlyersRights.org believe FAA should completely remove the term ‘customer’ from its lexicon as it will no doubt remain as a trigger for confused behavior as FAA culture still supports the airlines-as-customer construct,” the groups said in a news release.

“FAA needs to be a strong regulator with a mission to protect the flying public, period,” the statement added. “Moreover, and importantly, politically favored and powerful airlines should not be overseen any differently than smaller or less politically connected ones.”

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