NEW YORK, JULY 26 -- Airline passengers who see a broken seat in the plane cabin may be justified in worrying about how well the plane flies, the new head of the Federal Aviation Administration said today.

T. Allan McArtor said the FAA is increasing its force of safety inspectors because of concern that planes may be taking to the air without proper maintenance.

McArtor, appearing on the NBC News program "Meet the Press," was asked whether passengers who see flaws in the interior of an airplane have reason to be worried about the functional parts of the plane.

"I'm not asking them not to be worried," he said. "I think that they should be concerned that these service issues may be reflective of inattention by senior management on other obligations of that airline. We at the FAA are certainly attentive to that."

McArtor said safety remains the FAA's top priority, but that many consumer complaints about air travel -- delays and shoddy service -- are best left to the airlines to solve.

"You must keep in mind that restricting air commerce is something we would want to do at the very last event," he said.

McArtor, a former senior vice president of Federal Express, was confirmed by the Senate as FAA administrator July 18. He is to be sworn in today.