IG Report Highlights Problems with FAA Internal Review of Safety Inspector Concerns

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, the union that represents more than 11,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees including aviation safety inspectors, are applauding a recent Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General (IG) report, Actions Taken to Address Allegations of Unsafe Maintenance Practices at Northwest Airlines (Report Number AV-2007-080). “PASS is encouraged that the IG report addresses the critical need for the FAA to implement better internal review procedures to deal with inspector safety concerns,” said PASS National President Tom Brantley.

The IG report validates safety issues uncovered by an FAA inspector represented by PASS during the August 2005 aircraft mechanics strike at Northwest Airlines. Specifically, the IG concluded that that FAA needs improved internal procedures to ensure that “comprehensive, independent investigations of safety allegations and recommendations are consistently performed.” In the Northwest case, the IG findings have exonerated the inspector who sounded the alarm; however, many inspectors around the country continue to be discouraged from bringing forth serious safety concerns.

“We commend the IG for calling attention to and authenticating our inspector’s concerns,” said Brantley. “FAA inspectors should not be quieted when it comes to bringing forward safety issues involving airlines. It is their job to ensure that airlines are operating safely. The FAA must establish a process for formally addressing every safety concern, no matter how large or small.”

FAA inspectors take their oversight role to ensure public safety very seriously, while FAA management is often more interested in airline operations, failing to give these safety issues the attention they deserve. In fact, in the Northwest situation, the IG stated that the FAA was more concerned with discounting the inspector’s complaint rather than investigating the safety concerns. “It happened in this case and it’s happening all around the country,” said Brantley. “Giving airlines a free pass on serious maintenance concerns brought up in the inspection process is despicable. The flying public deserves better from the agency charged with guaranteeing their safety. It is time for the FAA to start living up to that promise.”

For the full IG report, go to http://www.oig.dot.gov/StreamFile?file=/data/pdfdocs/NWA.pdf.

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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 www.passnational.org.

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