Why Does The FAA Wait For Planes To Break?

This month, the roof of a Southwest flight ripped off. Terrifying. The culprit? Possibly metal fatigue - the gradual weakening of a plane's structure as it flies and ages. It's a known problem - so why doesn't the FAA hunt it harder?

As the NYT reports, the FAA only adds a problem to its safety inspection checklists once it's a known problem with a given plane. That is to say, once the damage has already (literally) been done. This, as opposed to checking for unprecedented problems before they pop up and potentially suck people out over the Atlantic Ocean. How might this be done? Former National Transportation Safety Board member John Goglia says giving old, beat-up planes a diligent checkup would show inspectors what to look for in younger planes. Makes sense to us. [NYT]