Investigation of Fatal Crash Highlights Lack of FAA Oversight

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday’s determinations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) pinpointing the FAA’s failure to oversee Chalk Ocean Airways maintenance programs following the 2005 crash that killed 20 people has raised serious concerns outlined today by the Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS, AFL-CIO), the union that represents Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors.

The NTSB has not only criticized the airline for its flawed maintenance program, which did not effectively address cracks in the right wing ultimately causing the crash, but also faulted the FAA for failing to “detect and correct deficiencies” in the maintenance program overseen by the airline and its designees.

The determinations by the NTSB highlight the need for additional inspectors in the field to oversee airline maintenance work being performed by entities of companies such as Chalk. “This crash is a tragic example of the consequences when multiple preventable factors are not properly addressed and remedied,” said Linda Goodrich, PASS regional vice president. “The combination of insufficient inspector staffing, little or no oversight of outsourced maintenance and outdated regulations made for the perfect storm of this tragedy. PASS has repeatedly warned the FAA that it must take steps to significantly boost its inspector workforce to meet the demands of the aviation industry. Instead, the FAA chooses to expand programs such as its designee programs, which basically allow the industry to oversee itself, and cut back on oversight by the federal government.”

PASS agrees with the NTSB’s assessment that the FAA’s “antiquated regulations” regarding aging aircraft were contributing factors in this accident. Older planes, such as the 1940 model Grumman Mallard in this case, are not subject to the same level of oversight and regulations as other aircraft and maintenance providers; thus, the level of scrutiny given by inspectors is minimal.

“The fact that Chalk followed the regulations currently in place for performing critical maintenance work should be a wake-up call to the FAA that more stringent regulations are desperately needed,” said Goodrich. “The FAA must make changes to the rules governing oversight of aging aircraft and demand that all air carriers meet the highest standards to ensure the safety of the flying public.”


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For 30 years, PASS has represented 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/.

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