FAA WHISTLEBLOWERS ALLIANCE
FAA Whistleblowers Alliance is an organization of FAA Personnel who have come forward to report problems in the Agency they work for. Our group consists of Air Traffic Controllers, Aviation Safety Inspectors, Flight Standards Managers, Flight Service Specialists, Aviation Security, and other disciplines within the FAA. Whistle blowing in the FAA is dangerous to one’s health and career. It has been said that FAA eats its young. Many of the members in the Alliance have been fired from their jobs, for doing their jobs. Washington-FAA Management has created an agency that is dysfunctional and reactive. They may be harsh words, but unfortunately they are true. I have been asked why would FAA not tell the truth and cover up safety issues that can kill hundreds, maybe thousands, of Americans? This same agency is mandated by Congress to promote safety and develop Aviation. Then why is FAA hiding facts and cooking the books on safety?
Recently Washington-FAA management has “suddenly” retired. The FAA has begun to get new management under the Obama Administration. The DOT Secretary, FAA Administrator, Associate Administrator for Safety and Flight Standards Director have been removed and replaced with new people. I can only hope that this does not continue to be business as usual in the FAA. If the FAA does not change course and listen to its employees then I am sorry to say that many Americans will remain at risk in the skies over our country.
The brave men and women who have come forward because they care about their jobs and the safety of the flying public are true heroes. FAA must listen to its employees and take their recommendations and improve aviation to make it as safe as possible. Agendas, cover-ups, fraud, waste and abuse must be stopped and the people responsible punished.
Last April Southwest Airlines was in the news, when 46 aircraft were flying with cracks in their fuselages. The FAA did not supposedly “discover” this until two FAA Inspectors, Bobby Boutris and Doug Peters were forced to go before Congress to expose the FAA. They became Whistleblowers. The Congressional hearings that followed put the FAA on the carpet. Top FAA management ignored the warnings of its field inspectors. It got to the point that Boutris and Peters were threatened and FAA attempted to silence them and even remove them from their jobs! To make matters worse FAA management “over reacted” flexing their muscles and grounding American Airlines for a minor maintenance issue to teach Congress a lesson. 150 MD 80s were grounded because FAA said they were not safe! 250,000 people were affected. American Airlines lost $30 million dollars. FAA management played hardball with Congress. It was politics, not safety!
I am sure most people are not aware that over 70% of Airline maintenance is being done overseas in FAA-approved repair stations. FAA has not inspected these stations for years and does not know how safe they really are. I know for a fact that aircraft maintenance problems are increasing because of poor maintenance. Just this year in the New York area American Airlines and Southwest had three engines explode on takeoff from LaGuardia and Islip MacArthur airports. Maintenance problems are increasing in the NTSB Accident and Incident reports. Safety is being compromised!
FAA shut down an investigation into illegally issued FAA mechanic certificates. St. George Aviation issued 2000 suspect certificates in Florida between 1995-1999. The FAA Manager in the Orlando (FSDO), Gabe Bruno, began an extensive retesting program and a high percentage of the mechanics could not pass a retest. Thirty-three mechanics were from Saudi Arabia and had the same P.O. Box. One of these individuals had the same name as a 9/11 highjacker, but the FAA suppressed this information. Yet after all this, FAA Associate Administrator for Safety Sabatini ordered Bruno to shut down the retesting. When Bruno, a 26-year employee in FAA, protested, he was removed as manager, harassed and forced into retirement.
In 2005 Chalks flight # 101 lost a wing in flight and crashed, killing all 20 souls aboard. The NTSB findings were faulty maintenance and lack of FAA oversight! The same FAA manager that was forced out of his job, Gabe Bruno, connected a St. George Aviation Mechanic as being employed with Chalks. This same mechanic was retested twice after the crash and failed both times. It is a sad fact that if Mr. Bruno was allowed to finish retesting all the St. George mechanics, this crash could have been averted. Mr. Bruno has since filed a complaint with the (OSC) Office of Special Counsel that could open an investigation into why did Washington- FAA management discontinue the mechanic retesting?
ATC controllers report problems in the skies. Aircraft flying too close together, dangerous near-mid-air collisions are happening too often. Runway incursions were being covered up and controller errors not being reported. FAA management was covering up potential problems. Frustrated controllers came forward and voiced concerns. Controllers from Dallas, Memphis, Detroit, and Newark reported serious problems. Peter Nesbitt, Ray Adams, Ann Whiteman, Geoffrey Weiss and Ray Adams had to become whistle blowers and report that the FAA was covering up life and death hazards in the sky. Their reward was harassment and threats to their jobs.
In 2005 Congress asked NASA to investigate FAA numbers. That is, the number of near-mid-air collisions, runway incursions, pilot deviations, controller errors and accidents reported by the FAA. NASA, after spending $11.3 million taxpayer dollars to conduct 2400 interviews with pilots, controllers and other aviation personnel had concluded that there was a big difference in FAA reported numbers and their findings. FAA stopped NASA from releasing this report. An average person would wonder why. Why not release the numbers, why waste $11.3 million tax dollars?
FAA management would not release bird strike numbers to the public after the U.S. Airways flight 1549 made a dramatic landing in the Hudson River. A double bird strike was the cause for the accident. Finally the New DOT Secretary, Mr. Ray La Hood, demanded that FAA release the report to comport with President Obama’s mandate for transparency in government.
As an FAA Safety Inspector, I have witnessed first hand, FAA covering ups or simply not reporting dangerous problems such as these. My reward for caring about my job and trying to do it the right way was harassment by management and removal.
President Obama has said he will bring change to Government. The FAA needs change. What has happened to the watchdog on safety, that “GOLD” standard to the world, The FAA?
By Rick Wyeroski, firstname.lastname@example.org