Freelance Gadfly

Mary Schiavo is excellent at inspiring fear of flying. The Transportation Dept.'s former inspector general, who resigned in protest in 1996 over the quality of federal air-safety management, has released a scathing indictment of the Federal Aviation Administration that bolsters critics' worst fears. Her book, Flying Blind, Flying Safe, charges that the FAA ignores its own safety rules.

Schiavo, 41, has had several run-ins with her former employer. As inspector general, she led investigations into the FAA's lax oversight of ValuJet before its 1996 crash in Florida, the use of counterfeit aircraft parts, and the FAA's inadequate security standards at U.S. airports. "The FAA is not the tough watchdog it needs to be," she says. "It's time to make changes."

Her headline-grabbing style has won Schiavo a lot of enemies. "She likes to throw bombs," gripes one congressional staffer. But will she slow down? Sources say Schiavo, a native Ohioan now teaching at Ohio State University, may soon run for office. FAA officials, fasten your seatbelts.

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