At a U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing today, safety inspectors for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) testified that safety violations were repeatedly ignored by agency superiors. According to the New York Times, the inspectors stated that "F.A.A. supervisors knew of the problems but had discouraged [the inspectors] from pursuing the safety problems or addressing problems within the agency, even threatening to relieve them of their duties." The Los Angeles Times reports that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman accused the FAA of "the most serious lapse in safety . . . in the past 23 years." Yesterday, acting FAA Administrator Robert A. Sturgell announced improvements to the agency's inspection program -- including enabling inspectors to raise their concerns quicker and at a higher level, preventing inspectors' potential conflicts of interest, and improving the clarity and coordination of FAA directives to air carriers.