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Sep 17, 2009 3:50 PM by Associated Press

FAA says airlines are no longer its 'customers'

Airlines will no longer be called "customers" of the agency that regulates them.

Randy Babbitt, the new Federal Aviation Administration chief, said Thursday that the agency will stop calling air carriers its "customers" - a practice adopted by the Bush administration.

Babbitt also announced a series of initiatives aimed at making sure airlines carry out safety repairs as directed and that whistleblower complaints are heard.

FAA suffered several embarrassing episodes in recent years in which large numbers of airliners were grounded because required maintenance hadn't been performed or unauthorized parts were used.

Lawmakers have complained the agency places the welfare of industry above the safety of passengers.

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