FAA Inspectors Union Questions Timing of $10.2 Million Penalty Against Southwest Airlines

Union Appalled That It Took Over a Year and a Congressional

Investigation to Prompt Decision

Mar 07, 2008, 00:00 ET from Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO

    WASHINGTON, March 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Professional
 Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, the union that represents FAA
 inspectors, released the following statement in response to the FAA
 announcement to impose $10.2 million in fines on Southwest airlines for
 failure to adequately investigate serious maintenance issues. The following
 comments are from PASS President Tom Brantley.
     "It is appalling that the FAA chose to impose this penalty only after
 several months of investigations by Congress and the threat of a pending
 hearing instead of immediately addressing the implications brought forward
 by inspectors over a year ago. The series of events not only highlights the
 dysfunctional relationship between FAA management and its workforce, but it
 also perpetuates the fact that the FAA is only willing to take action
 against the airlines when backed into a corner rather than taking
 inspectors at their word.
     "It is unfortunate that the inspector assigned to Southwest Airlines
 had to resort to invoking whistleblower protections in order to have his
 claims validated. Even more unfortunate is that there are other inspectors
 out there who undergo the same types of retaliatory actions by the FAA and
 air carriers for simply doing their jobs.
     "The relationship between the FAA and the industry has developed into
 troubling partnerships rather than the FAA maintaining a strong oversight
 role. Many of these partnerships have grown into more 'cozy' relationships
 that result in the FAA becoming the protector of the airline rather than
 the flying public, thus weakening the authority of FAA safety inspectors to
 perform their job and reducing their role as critical safety enforcers. The
 bottom line is that the FAA appears to be more concerned with keeping
 airlines solvent rather than safe."
     PASS represents more than 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation
 Administration and the Department of Defense who install, maintain, support
 and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, inspect and
 oversee the commercial and general aviation industries, develop flight
 procedures, and perform quality analyses of the aviation systems. For more
 information, visit the PASS website at http://www.passnational.org.

SOURCE Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO