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FAA official loses safety oversight duties

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Federal Aviation Administration official who was criticized last week for the agency's handling of missed inspections at Southwest Airlines Co. has been reassigned, an agency spokeswoman said.

Thomas Stuckey is still working at the FAA but is no longer the agency's director of flight standards for the five-state southwest region, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said Monday.

Brown said Stuckey was moved to "an administrative position that doesn't have safety oversight." She declined to comment on the reasons for the move.

Stuckey did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

At a congressional hearing last week, Stuckey's management of safety regulation at the FAA's Fort Worth regional office was criticized. An inspector testified Stuckey didn't answer several e-mails raising concerns about lax enforcement of Southwest, and a supervisor criticized his management style. The employees eventually took their complaints to Congress.

Last month, the FAA hit Southwest Airlines with a $10.2 million civil penalty for flying planes that had missed safety inspections. Officials at the Dallas-based carrier say they made a mistake to keep operating the planes but that passenger safety was not compromised.

Stuckey is at least the second official at the FAA's Fort Worth office to be reassigned as the Southwest case has unfolded. The chief maintenance inspector, Douglas Gawadzinski, still works for the FAA but has no responsibility for safety decisions, a top agency official said last week.

The regional office oversees safety of everything from commercial jetliners to small private planes in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.