Mary Fackler Schiavo is the outspoken former Inspector General of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), where for six years she withstood pressure from within DOT and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as she sought to expose and correct problems at the agencies.
In 1997, after her stormy tenure at the DOT, Schiavo wrote Flying Blind, Flying Safe, which summed up her numerous concerns about the FAA's systemic flaws.
In 1987 and 1988, Schiavo handled Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests as a special assistant to then US Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.
She is a strong critic of air safety and has represented many air-crash survivors.
In 1997, after leaving her post at the DOT and long before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Schiavo wrote Flying Blind, Flying Safe, a scathing expose of the fraud, corruption, waste, mismanagement, and dangerous negligence in the aviation industry and the FAA as a crusader for flight safety. Her primary criticisms in the book focus on the FAA's reluctance to address its many shortcomings, while expressing her concern that there was a fundamental conflict of interest between the FAA job of oversight and the FAA job of promoting aviation.
In Flying Blind, Schiavo describes how the FAA uses a formula ascribing specific monetary value to human lives, and how the agency allows numbers to decide whether the cost of extra safety is worth the additional expense (e.g., if equipping an airline fleet with smoke detectors would cost $100 million, but would only save 10 lives each worth $1 million, then the expense is ruled out). Schiavo is similarly critical of the internal FAA politics and the FAA's administrators. She writes, "I can't remember when I started calling these men the 'Kidney Stone Administrators', but I do know that it became apparent to me early on that they were tolerated only because everyone at the FAA knew it was merely time before they would pass.
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