Inspectors' Union Raises Concerns Regarding FAA Oversight of Airlines

PASS Testimony Before Congress Highlights FAA Culture Gone Awry

Apr 02, 2008, 01:00 ET from Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO

    WASHINGTON, April 2, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tom Brantley,
 national president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO
 (PASS), released the following statement regarding his upcoming testimony
 on April 3 before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on
 FAA oversight of air carriers:
     "The FAA has become so focused on working well with the airlines that
 it has allowed its safety mission to suffer at times. FAA safety inspectors
 are on the front lines of enforcing aviation safety standards. Yet, on far
 too many occasions, the FAA has labeled its own safety inspectors as
 troublemakers for simply reporting violations or allowed airline management
 to demand the reassignment of an inspector trying to hold a carrier
     "The FAA has not only promoted an internal culture where safety is
 given second billing, but it has manipulated every aspect of the
 enforcement process in order to encourage and maintain a positive
 relationship between the agency and the airlines. Safety inspectors are on
 the frontline protecting this country's aviation system and trust should no
 doubt be placed in their professionalism and expertise. Punishing safety
 inspectors for discovering violations or impeding them from making safety
 of the system their priority should not be tolerated.
     "Safety inspectors have been relegated to auditors who inspect more
 paperwork than airplanes, the records obviously do not tell the whole
 story. Without robust physical inspections, there is no way to know if the
 data is accurate or complete since it is provided by the airlines. Given
 the importance of safety to air travel, the FAA is in no position to rely
 solely on a data-driven system. The process must be reintegrated as a
 combination of data reporting and physical inspections. With nearly half of
 the inspector workforce eligible to retire in the next five years, the FAA
 must address severe understaffing to ensure that it can give proper
 oversight to the industry. And FAA managers should be rotated on a regular
 basis to prevent the cozy relationships that appear to be clouding
     "While the announcement last week by FAA management to create a system
 to make it harder to dismiss issues raised by inspectors is appropriate, it
 reveals an FAA culture gone awry. Even the FAA recognizes that it is not
 listening to its inspectors when it has to create new safeguards to do so."
     A copy of PASS's testimony will be available on April 3 at
     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
     Contact: Kori Blalock Keller
     (202) 293-7277

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