NEW: Gov't watchdog pans FAA safety reporting program
The aim was to encourage airline employees to voluntarily report safety errors. But a government audit has found that the Aviation Safety Action Program was a "missed opportunity," providing little useful information.
The report concludes that airline workers wrongly viewed ASAP as an "amnesty program" that allowed them to escape possible punishment for mistakes.
It cited the example of an airline mechanic who was killed when he was sucked into an aircraft engine in Texas in 2006. The Dallas Morning News reported that the two Continental Airlines pilots who were controlling the engines filed an ASAP report and were not questioned as part of a federal safety probe because they were given immunity under the program.
The audit also found that decisions to review incidents were sometimes made by officials with conflicts of interest.
An FAA spokeswoman says the agency concurs with most of the government audit and will be "making enhancements" to the program.