The FAA last week issued a final rule intended to prevent FAA inspectors from working for the airlines they previously oversaw for two years after they leave the agency. The rule applies to FAA personnel who had oversight responsibility over the airlines (as well as over fractional providers and other firms that offer commercial air service.)
Such rules have been enacted in other sectors, most notably in lobbying and finance.
In announcing the proposed rule, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “The flying public can rest assured that our aviation safety inspectors will remain focused on protecting the flying public without any conflicts of interest.”
The rule stems from an incident a few years back in which Southwest Airlines failed to conduct required safety inspections for fuselage cracks. A report by the DOT Inspector General’s office “concluded that the FAA office overseeing Southwest had developed an overly collaborative relationship” with the airline. The FAA fined Southwest $7.5 million and the Inspector General recommended the cooling-off period that is now the law.