American Morning

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July 2nd, 2009
12:14 PM ET

FAA whistle-blower safety warnings found to have merit

By Allan Chernoff
CNN Sr. Correspondent

A federal investigation into Federal Aviation Administration employee whistle-blower safety complaints has found more than two dozen to be on the mark, CNN has learned, potentially putting the public's safety at risk.

The federal Office of Special Counsel, which investigates allegations of reprisal against whistle-blowers, tells CNN it has made a "positive determination" that the FAA improperly responded to 27 current cases of FAA employee whistle-blowers warning of safety violations ranging from airline maintenance concerns to runway and air traffic control issues.

"It means that FAA is a very sick agency," said Tom Devine, legal director of the non-profit Government Accountability Project. "There's never been an agency that's had that large of a surge of whistle-blowers whose concerns were vindicated by the government's official whistle-blower protection office."

The Department of Transportation told CNN, "We acknowledge it's a large number of cases."

"We take whistle-blower complaints very seriously and we fully cooperate with all of the investigations," said FAA spokesperson Laura J. Brown.

Among the warnings found to have merit are those of FAA inspector Christopher Monteleon, who flagged safety problems at Colgan Air for several years before a Colgan plane crashed near Buffalo in February killing 50 people. He told CNN he's faced retaliation at the FAA for pointing out issues including faulty aircraft manuals and poor cockpit procedures he observed during in-flight aircraft testing.

"My supervisor called me into his office and said, 'Stop your investigation.' He said that these violations never occurred," said Monteleon.

But Monteleon continued raising safety concerns about the airline. Eventually he was demoted and put on leave of absence.

"I had my aviation inspector credentials taken from me," Monteleon told CNN. "It has just been humiliating. It's been awful."

The FAA says it does not believe any of Monteleon's reassignments were retaliatory, and cannot comment further because this is a personnel issue covered by privacy laws.

While the Office of Special Counsel has found merit in Monteleon's charges of safety violations, the Special Counsel continues to investigate his claim that he was the victim of retaliation for pressing his safety concerns.

Though passenger safety is at stake, the Office of Special Counsel found the FAA has repeatedly deferred to the airlines it regulates.

"That's shocking, and it's really unconscionable for a government agency that's supposed to be about safety, not about witch hunts for those who find safety lacking," said Mary Schiavo, inspector general of the Department of Transportation from 1990-1996, who is now an attorney representing families of accident victims.

What's going on at FAA? Critics say it's the culture.

In 2003, former FAA administrator Marion Blakey established a "Customer Service Initiative" that defined airlines as customers, rather than the flying public. The current Transportation Department inspector general Calvin Scovel, found, "FAA's definition of its customer has had a pervasively negative, although unintended, impact on its oversight program."

While there's no evidence of illegal dealings, the FAA has an active revolving door. Agency managers regularly go on to work in the aviation industry while industry executives take top spots at FAA.

-Former FAA administrator Marion Blakey is now president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association.

-Former FAA chief operating officer Russell Chew moved on to become president of Jet Blue Airways, where he just stepped down and took on the role of Senior Adviser for the company.

-FAA's chief operating officer of air traffic, Hank Krakowski, came from United Airlines where he held a number of senior management positions, including vice president of flight operations.

-Linda Daschle, wife of the former Senate Democratic leader, was the FAA's acting administrator, and then became a lobbyist representing the airline industry.

"There's a very cozy relationship between the lobbyists for the industry and the Department of Transportation and the FAA," said Schiavo.

As in all federal agencies, senior executives leaving the FAA are subject to a one-year "cooling off" period that forbids them from representing a client before the FAA.

The new transportation secretary Ray LaHood and FAA administrator Randy BabbitT, who took office June 1, say they will make sure whistle-blowers are heard.

"We will pay attention to any kind of complaint or accusation or any concern expressed by an employee of FAA. It's a new day at the FAA and at DOT," LaHood told CNN.

FAA last year established a Safety Issues Reporting System for employees to raise safety concerns. FAA also tracks employee hotline complaints in its General Counsel Office.

But, the agency has resisted calls to establish an independent office to investigate whistle-blower safety claims. The pending House bill to reauthorize FAA would require the agency to establish such an office. The Senate still has to write its version of the bill.

The Office of Special Counsel has referred all 27 cases to the transportation secretary who is investigating and must tell the Special Counsel what steps will be taken to fix the safety problems.


Filed under: Airline safety
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Mary

    All they care about are there very High Salaries.

    July 10, 2009 at 12:15 am |
  2. 30,000 plus hours

    FAA – Corrupt? True!
    FAA & Airlines – cozy relationship? True!
    I survived THREE Fitness for Duty Evaluations ordered to submit to by my employer, a major airline.
    Why?
    Naively thinking I, a Captain, had a responsibility to my passengers, coworkers and stockholders to promote safety. So spoke up. Dumb me?
    Did anyone listen? No.
    Who did I go to?
    Company Safety Department first. reply = silence.
    Union second = silence.
    FAA Inspector = silence.
    Was I right or wrong? You tell me. Should I have? Does a Captain have a responsibility in the REAL WORLD to be a Captain as the FAA says, the Union says, and common sense says?
    Next ordered to Fitness for Duty. When asked Why = silence was the reply.
    Maybe should be put in for Guiness Book of records having beat THREE psychological Fitness for Duty Evaluations?
    How? By being faithful to wife for 36 years?
    By serving my nation in the USAF 27 years?
    By always completing a safe flight of major commercial airlines over 28 years?
    Planes being turned into potential Fuel/Air bombs? No problem the FAA inspectors say.
    Planes being flown with known structural damage from fire across N. Atlantic? No problem the FAA inspectors say.
    Planes being flown with visible wing cracks exceeding 12 inches? No Problem the FAA inspectors say.
    The list goes on.
    Oh, did I forget, ATP licenses/ratings from governments of USA, UK and Japan, but what do I know?
    Two combat tours in SEA in real combat. But, what do I know?
    USAF Flight Test Pilot of C5 Galaxy? But, what do I know?
    Experience in and typed on B727, B737, B747, B757, B767, DC10, MD80, A300 Airbus? But, what do I know?
    USAF Pilot C5 Galaxy, C130 Hercules, UC123/K & OV10 Bronco? But, what do I know?
    Yep, my opinion only, 1978 year of change for USA:
    1.) change bankruptcy law first time in over 100 years allowing top company managers to put a company into bankruptcy and still stay.
    2.) change in how money was loaned making it easier to give to the unworthy – Savings and Loan scandal (Late 80's), now, financial meltdown making our children pay for our bills using smoke screen of "stimulus package"... great legacy to leave?
    3.) Deregulation – "Unleashed the gods of greed" on the transportation industry. Now American Aviaiton is a house infested with termites, safety is definitely second fiddle to financial concerns.
    Thank you Jimmy Carter?
    You tell me....
    Please comment....

    July 7, 2009 at 12:55 am |
  3. EX FAA PHX

    The degradation of the FAA started under the Clinton administration. At that time the FAA was so hung up on diversity that they would hire any minority. regardless of experience or skill, instead of a person with the greater skills. Those people without any real skills or experience are now the leaders and managers and they continue to hire and promote people who have less experience and skill than they do themselves. This is the major reason for the monumental mess that FAA Flight Standards finds themselves in at this time. This is political correctness run amok and the traveling public is at greater risk with each passing day.
    I know I was there and I was a victim of cronyism and an inept manager that was sent to PHX under false pretences. He wanted to be worshiped (because he was from DC) and he reaked havoic on those who had the experience and knowledge that far surpassed his own weak, limited experience. The man was and continues to be dangerous to the flying public but is still blessed by Washington DC.

    July 6, 2009 at 5:46 pm |
  4. R.Moore

    All you people talking about the term "promoting or fostering" may want to avail yourself to Section 44701 of Public Law103-272. You will note that there is no fostering aviation involved.

    However, some have it right about the "politics". The responsible persons are mostly never held to public accountability and sometimes just move to another position within the agency.

    July 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  5. Peter Revere

    In a perfect world, the FAA individual responsible for keeping the flight of AF1 and two fighter jets a SECRET from the press and the public should:

    a) Be publicly identified
    b) Be fired
    c) Be held invdividually liable for the damages created
    d) Be subject to individual civil suits for the emotional distress caused
    e) Have his or her head displayed on a pole in front of FAA Hq

    July 5, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  6. Jocko

    AS A retired FAA inspector all you have to do is call your senator or cogressperson and see what happens The FAA does not like Govt Involement when it comes to there short Comings

    July 5, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  7. Grounded Airline Pilot

    This is only the tip of the iceberg. Five years ago I was an airline pilot, and complained to both my employer and the FAA about fatigue and training – two of the things being examined by the NTSB regarding the Colgan crash – and got medically grounded by the FAA, even though there was never any medical evidence against me.
    I thought I was "doing the right thing" by making my concerns known, but I paid the price, and now work for TSA as an airport screener.
    From the cockpit to the security checkpoint, as a result of safety complaints. Imagine that.

    July 5, 2009 at 10:00 am |
  8. Ross Aimer

    How can you regulate the very same business you are trying to promote?
    FAA's claim to regulate safety has always contradicted with its main goal of promoting commerce and helping its best customers (the airline industry) prosper.
    "Safety first" as long as it doesn't cost the poor CEO a Penny out of his bonus.
    Besides how dare anyone ever talk about regulating or worst yet, "blowing the whistle" on the mighty Big Business!
    Let's not forget the conservative mantra: "make the government ineffective enough to drown it in a bath tub!"
    Don't blame it all on the dumb one. Reagan started the destruction of this industry by firing the air traffic controllers and deregulating every thing in sight.
    Crash in Buffalo is only the tip of the iceberg, folks!

    Captain Ross Aimer (UAL Ret.)
    CEO
    Aviation Experts, LLC

    July 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  9. Kevin- Tampa

    I think it is funny that Bush is blamed for all of this. Lets not forget that under the Clinton administration there was alot of violations and oversights as well. This is not a product of Bush. It is a product that has been in the same situation since the 60's and 70's when air travel made its first major boom. So let us think about this, most of the problems with air travel today are new problems, but its been operating this way for how long? TWA Flight 800, who was president? What caused that problem? I recall that being a state of the art plane. Brand new (or close to it).
    Major problems are going to happen in any industry. Take the recession. Did Bush cause that too? Let us remember the other 2 Great Depressions we have had. One was in the 1800's. The other in the 1930's. Surely those are Bush's fault too. The same condemned inflation caused those depressions, and inflation will continue to cause depressions. Indians and old world trading (of minerals, ores, spices, linens, metals, stones, scales, and other forms of trade commerce) had no inflation. One pound of sugar cane then was worth 25 yards of linen (silk). 25 years later, the same pound of sugar cane was still worth 25 yards of silk. They didnt play with inflation. Thats what causes the colapse of an economy. Creating a false pretense for it to 'grow' upon. A dollar is still a dollar. Inflation makes your dollar worth 25cents.
    Candy bar in the 30s was 3cents.
    Today its 1dollar.
    Inflation makes your dollar worthless. So lets keep yelling at Bush. Yelling does so much to make this world peaceful. Thats why we have wars with one another. Way to go world, lets show the aliens we know how to kill each other. Wahoo!

    July 3, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  10. R.Moore

    As I was watching American Morning with John Roberts this morning (07/02) there was an article presented by Allan Chernoff concerning the FAA Whistleblower (Christopher Monteleon) and other oversite of airlines. What really bothers me is the fact that the news media including CNN sensationaliizes a story such as this, congress flails their arms, but nothing changes and the news stories hardley ever get any followup. If you think there has been past cultural change in the FAA I remind you to start at least with the following:
    1. Eastern Airkines in the 70’s & 80’s.
    2. National Airlines in the 80’s.
    3. Value Jet.
    4. Numerous FAA RASIPs.
    5. Numerous FAA NASIPs.
    6. Other directed safety inspections.
    7. Recently, Southwest Airlines.
    Then tell me about cultural change. I listen to the same “ole” BS year after year, yet here we are watching the same “ole” BS in 2009. I wonder if the american public will ever demand an accounting. You to may one day be watching your life flash before your eyes !

    BTW, the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 was superceded in 1994 by congressional law which took FAA Flight Standards out of promoting aviation and doing what they were supposed to be doing.......that is regulating and enforcing current rules & regulations. I wonder how "Customer Service" took precedence ?

    July 2, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  11. Dale Kettring

    I have seen several people quote the "dual mandate" of the FAA as an issue. The "dual mandate" they refer to is always regulation and promotion of the industry, and that used to be the case.

    However, that "dual mandate" has not existed since, I believe, 1996, after the Valuejet crash in the Everglades. Then DOT Secretary Pena, and FAA Administrator Hinson called on Congress to change the "dual mandate", and Congress obliged.

    The FAA's current mandate is to "provide a safe, secure, and efficient global aerospace system that contributes to national security and the promotion of U.S. aerospace safety."

    So, there is a dual mandate, but it is SECURITY and SAFETY.

    .

    July 2, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  12. Susan

    Over the past few years Dan Rather, the WashingtonPost, MotherEarth News, CNN (to name a few) have all had "breaking" stories relating to airline safety the FAA and its relationship to aircraft manufacturers (Boeing, Airbus,etc.) –there's a flurry of outrage and then the stories are silenced. We'll see if it's really a "new day" at the DOT. The whistleblowers risk jobs and reputations to bring allegations to light. Good luck to them.

    July 2, 2009 at 9:35 pm |
  13. Steve

    I grew up with a friend who was a pilot for Eastern Airlines, and you would not believe what he put up with flying jets- instruments not working, parts falling off in flight, etc. He was told to shut up and put up with it if he wanted to continue to fly. He also told me that most airlines make a substantial profit when one of their planes crash. Imagine that!!! When a plane crashes insurance pays out enough to cover lawsuits, investigations, corrective measures, etc., and even the loss of customers because the public fears flying on that particular airline.

    July 2, 2009 at 6:01 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    I can't blame this on the Bush Administration. They were just the most recent in a downward trend. This happened under Democrats as well.

    The first problem is the dual mandate. Common sense says that you cannot both promote and police the airline industry at the same time. The very concept of a regulatory agency does not include "customers." A regulatory agency that has safety responsibilities is supposed to be an industry watchdog. Watchdogs don't have "customers."

    A government regulatory agency is not, and never will be, a business. You can not run a regulatory agency that has FAA's responsibilities like it is a business. The FAA builds, operates and polices the National Airspace System. When your budget is less, you can't do the same job that you used to do as well when you have fewer people. Choices have to be made. With choices come compromises.

    When the buget cuts came, the offices that were cut the worst were the ones whose job was to mind the store inside the agency...budget, accounting, personnel. Specialists from the personnel office were taken out of the personnel office and made part of the offices that they were working with...and as a result became advocates of the offices that were paying them instead of minding the store from the perspective of an independent office. I don't believe that every employee who has a gripe with the agency is right (most aren't), but I do think that this could have made a institutional difference in how the FAA responded to some of those employee retaliation cases.

    Where hard and fast guidance for employees to follow once existed, as a result of some of the so-called "reforms," people were told to use their "business judgment" instead. What does that mean? An employee who used ot be able to say "you can"t do that and here's why" was reduced to saying "you shouldn't do that because it's not a good business judgment." That impaired their ability to do their jobs because they no longer had anything to rely on.

    I don't believe that it is either fair or accurate to call what happened at the FAA corruption. This is the key point that the news media and the public always seems to miss. The overwhelming majority of the people at the FAA are good, decent and hard-working people who are trying to do their jobs the best that they can, care about their mission, are highly motivated and I have the utmost respect for them, but it always seemed to me that the people at the top were constantly putting unnecessary obstacles in the way of getting the job done right...and with fewer people. You bust your butt one year and work yourself to the point of exhaustion and just barely get the job done...and then the bean-counters in headquarters think that you can do that forever... then they cut the budget some more the next year. It gets to a point where you are no longer cutting fat and after a while, employees just burn out. You can't go to the mat over what you see going on all the time...you start to have to pick and chose your shots and let some things slide that you wouldn't let slide in the past. That's how it starts. After a while, it's all too easy for you to become part of the problem. It's called taking the path of least resistance. Others call that the "culture" of the FAA. That's why it is so hard to break. If you try to do so, you are standing alone. One person can make a difference at a lot of places, but not at the FAA. After a while, they simply absorb you. The alternative is that you fight back...and maybe wind up like these whislteblowers...but they are the exception...the lucky ones. Since employees aren't perfect, the more likely outcome is that the agency can find a reason sooner or later to fire you...and does.

    July 2, 2009 at 5:55 pm |
  15. Paul W from Santa Clara

    CNN needs to give this prominence. We have a clear indication that the FAA violated its Federal mandate – is there anything clearer than an FAA Administrator saying that Airlines are their primary customers and not passengers?

    People died because of this.

    The persons who were supposed to protect those people got rich because of this.

    I think we need to make Marion Blakeley one of the most famous faces in the world. Everybody should know that M. Blakeley betrayed the public the FAA is supposedly protecting.

    WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE??

    July 2, 2009 at 5:50 pm |
  16. Steve

    This has been going on for a long time. I grew up with a friend who was a pilot for Eastern Airlines, and you would not believe what he put up with flying jets- instruments not working, parts falling off in flight, etc. He was told to shut up and put up with it if he wanted to continue to fly. He also told me that most airlines make a substantial profit when one of their planes crash. Imagine that!!! When a plane crashes insurance pays out enough to cover lawsuits, investigations, corrective measures, etc., and even the loss of customers because the public fears flying on that particular airline.

    July 2, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  17. tanmanski

    Bill Roby – Once we were up to altitude and in level flight I noticed the aircraft was cork screwing through the air as it did not have sufficient structural strength

    WOW your knowledge of aircraft is impressive....I'm shocked the flight crew didn't immediately bow to your superior knowledge and divert to the nearest airport to have themselves arrested

    of course nothing much has changed in aviation in the last 30years so it's completely understandable you still refuse to fly....

    July 2, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  18. BEACHBUM3

    I CAN PERSONALY BELEIVE THAT THE FAA HAS BEN MADE INTO CUSTOMERS OF THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY RATHER THAN A REGULATORY AGENCY OF THE AIRLINE FOR THIS IS THE SAME THINGS THAT I HAVE FOUND TO BE TRUE IN THE GOUND SURFACE TRANSPORTAION IN WHERE IT IS SUPPOSELY TO HAVE STATE HIGHWAY INSPECTORS AS ENFORCER OF STATE SPECEFICIATIONS AN ENFORCEMENT PRODCURES BUT THE ROADWAY CONTRACTORS ARE BEING TREATED AS CUSTOMERS BY D.O.T. RATHER THAN AS CONTRACTORS THAT ARE UNDER CONTRACT TO PROVIDE A SERVICE TO THE TAXPAYERS OF THE VAROIUS STATES FOR THE HANDILING OF ROAD BUILDING CONTRACTS. AN THESE CONTRACTORS ARE BEING ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH MUDER IN REGARDS TO ANY ENFORECMENT WHAT SO EVEROF STATE SPECEFICIATIONS FOR ROADWAYS & BRIDGES. IN MY OPINION THE USD.O.T. NEEDS TO URGENTLY LOOK INTO THESE HAPPENINGS THANK YOU

    July 2, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  19. PrinceMichael3

    There is a natural tension between regulating the air industry for safety and defending the aviation industry's bottom line. You cannot be extreme one way or the other and expect the industry to survive. If you say "safety at any cost" and prices rise, then the flying public won't fly. And if you say "profit over safety" and accidents rise, then they won't fly. The Bush admin tried the latter, and got away with it (mostly) because it takes a while for the consequences to play out and become recognized.

    But that's a delicate problem to hand to a govt agency: choose a judicious balance that gives "enough" safety and "enough" profit margin. Every aviation company is (or should be) trying to strike this balance, because they already understand it (or should).

    So what's the role of the govt in this? I think (a) providing a central resource for research that advances safety, including accident investigations; and (b) making uniform policies across all companies so that competition doesn't drive them all to the lowest tolerable safety.

    July 2, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  20. peter

    for Chris and all the other Bush Derangement Syndrome (love that term) con-artists, do we have to mention ACORN as the START of the FINANCIAL COLLAPSE. Pullleeeassse, already. BOTH Parties are guilty – it is wanton greed, power. THAT is what has to be targeted. Seriously, the biggest threat is if WE are not divided and conquered. We should all be bashing our OWN parties to shed lobbyist control – And MSM IS EVEN WORSE! read about the Washington Post blatantly selling access, released today – wanton greed over Truth, buy time with your representative. We all better wake up to that one. We have to find ways to collectivize as citizens and control government again, give our youth something to be patriotic and proud about as I had given. Now we have at least 4 years of being told to drink the cool-AID – even Helen Thomas is protesting the media control going on right now from the Presidential Office. Just the second wrecking crew in their now, that is all it is. One can't be proud of either party. Stop letting them dismantle this beautiful country.

    July 2, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  21. Sarah

    "the FAA needs to be privitized"

    No. It needs to un-privatized. Industry is who is whitewashing this in the name of profits.

    The FAA needs to start serving the PUBLIC again.

    July 2, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  22. Dan Stepnick

    Having worked for UA for 36 years as an A&P Mechanic, and a Inspector in Overhaul, I know this, the FAA is and was in UA pocket. I remember that before I left the Company, I reported a serious violation to the FAA. They never came and questioned me, but they did report it to my Manger. I was told in the future, lets keep it in the family. There were a lot of other problems, and was useless to reported them as I found out.

    July 2, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  23. Happily Retired Air Traffic Controller

    Note to "Airline Captain": WRONG. The FAA is NOT in the business to "promote" air commerce.

    On the subject of "whistle blowing", I am a former FAA air traffic controller and I found it more desirable to retire rather than continue to suffer the hostile work environment that resulted from my bringing a safety related issue to their attention. The issue resulted in four deaths and was well on the way to being swept under the carpet until I made it clear I was going to take the matter outside the agency. Management made my life a living hell for the remainder of my career as a result of this.

    July 2, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  24. DW

    Looks like Todd and Cockpit Voice are both from Helena and have worked together for quite some time.
    If our government spent as much time actually working as they do trying to cover up all the lies and issues they have created through the years of BS, we might have a system we could be proud of. But because most people cannot see past the end of their nose we are in a mess and it will only get worse.

    July 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  25. Anthony S

    I'm not sure if the first post by Captian Airline Pilot was supporting the fact that the FAA is in bed w/ the airlines, but yes, promoting airline COMMERCE cannot be acheived unless there are high standards of SAFETY.

    July 2, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  26. Angus

    Let us not forget the Air Traffic Controller whistleblowers at Dallas-Ft. Worth, Detroit, John F. Kennedy, Memphis, Newark, and et. al. These men and women have sacrificed their careers with with the FAA in the name of safety. The culture of fear and intimidation is alive and well at the FAA.

    July 2, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  27. jared

    oh yea – it was Bush's fault, when is that going to get old?

    July 2, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  28. Rick T

    I spent over 20 years as an Air Traffic Control Specialist and was called every name in the book because I wanted to do it by the book. Managers would say I was to hardcore and the book had gray areas. Safety to me was not a gray area. Fastest way to move up the ladder was to run a plane into terrain.

    July 2, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  29. Debbue

    After 13 years of ATC and 7 of Pilot Training Management with a bit of Airfield Management thrown in for fun... Why have I not seen PATCO brought back up? This is an OLD story - there have been flags raised for eons but yet ...here we are today. It is a complex industry, with technological advances outpacing the funding for improvement. The lights went out in the sky twice... first with the Air Traffic Controller strike – then with 911. Look back and review exactly what were the arguments and issues for that strike? Safety and workload stress. By the way, thank the Military Air Traffic Controllers... they stepped in and it took 2 years to train and grow civilian controllers... then the greatest irony of all. Ronald Reagan Airport.

    July 2, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  30. HIGGSBOSON

    There's a reason it's called the Gravestone Agency.

    July 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  31. David Manowitz

    My first reaction to this story was to be somewhat torn over which was the more amazing: that this happened or that we've had so few air disasters during that time. However, on second thought, this study does NOT say how many times the FAA has actually investigated an airline after one of these tip-offs. Both values are needed to have the full picture.

    July 2, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  32. Danishfl

    This is just amazing....My hubby has tried to get into FAA for years now and has the experience, but too me, this article shows that only "folks that are near and dear" to the supervisors in there, family and friends, gets in...what a tight network, run just like the mafia...and our lives are at stake here????they should fired the sqard and hire fresh folks...how about hire my hubby that has no "inside connections" for once...

    July 2, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  33. William

    As a frequent traveler, I am disappointed to learn about his issue, although it doesn't come as a surprise given how cooperative Congress has been to de-regulate industry over the past nine years. Given all the recent airline accidents, it is time to hold the FAA accountable for its lack of safety oversight and willingness to cooperate with its inspectors. The airline industry and FAA have become far too cozy and willing to sacrifice safety for profit and reputation. Enough!

    July 2, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  34. Tom Caven

    Having been a Special Agent for the FAA from 1991, until my retirement in April "08", I can attest to the fact that that organizations "Standard Operating Procedure", is to eliminate anyone who dares display a modicum of ethical dedication in performing duties according to written regulations (FARS). I can also say that referring to regulated entities as [Customers] goes back much, much farther than Marion Blakey's tenure as Administrator. If I were to write a book about the criminal incompetence, financial waste of taxpayer money and cover-up in that organization, no-one would believe it could be anything but a work of fiction. Sadly this article reveals only the "very-tip-of-the iceburg", and "none" of our elected government officials has the courage, or wherewithall to do anything about it!! FAA management, at the highest levels, believes itself accountable to "no-one".

    July 2, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  35. Chris - Seattle

    This blog should be on the POTUS desk! I love listening to people that speak reality. There was one person spewing statistics on how "safe" we've been for 2 years...woohooo!

    July 2, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  36. Yathink

    Gee – ya think. Based on the steps taken it's obvious to any person with an ounce of sense that these folks were attached for blowing the whistle. We need to protect these people and not let this or any industry demonize them for trying to protect the public. There needs to be stronger consequences to the people in power who denegrate the whistleblower.

    July 2, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  37. James

    The old saying goes 'the FAA and airline management are liars and cheats'. This goes beyond Bush.

    July 2, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  38. Rick McDaniel

    I suspect that most of the time, whistle blowers in general, are right......but of course those in power do everything they can to cover up, with total disregard for the public, or for other employees, etc.

    The kinds of things people try to get away with, are unbelievable.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  39. Jennifer, NYC

    Well, Josh, it's Bush who caused this economic melt-down. Bush caused more destruction to our country/economy than any one human could think of. He appointed people who were "Bush Loyalists" not for their competence.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  40. ash

    Now we need FCC whistleblowers. Was amazed to find many posts online that described exactly what I experienced. File a complaint against a monopoly, they send it to the monopoly, the monopoly shoots back a letter with lies to them, and they send a copy to the complainant telling them the claim is now closed. Can't re-open it. Seems there are many conflicts of interest within all the F's – we already know about the FDA and others.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  41. Carlos

    Well said, Josh.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  42. David

    "The FAA says it does not believe any of Monteleon’s reassignments were retaliatory, and cannot comment further because this is a personnel issue covered by privacy laws."

    UMMMMM, that already seems like a comment that goes too far, considering that it is a personnal issue and covered by privacy laws!

    MORONS

    July 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  43. Jeff

    Ive been working at the FAA in OKC for 4 years and around it my whole life. Its utter BS that FAA employees and contractors dont work to meet 100% safety standards and work to improve them. Additionally, airlines (most) wont fly a plane if its unsafe. its not worth the risk. Most of the comments here are either people who seem to be whiners (those who dont actually have anything to do with Aircraft safety or have a job related issue). The faa needs improvement, no doubt, but that should be at the top. To put the entire FAA in one basket and all employees is ridiculous.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  44. John MacDaniel, Huntsville AL

    So what all of these people are saying is this:

    George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, et al have perpetrated the greatest moral charade of all times.

    I believe that there is no one in the ranks of government employees that is better able to see and tell the truth about what great damage the republicans have wrought in the eight years that they were in control of the government except the responsible employees that are a great part of these agencies in the lower ranks of responsibility.

    The DOD has had the greatest fraud of all times as it's chief – and all in the military will continue to suffer and die until the mindset and attitudes that this one agent of the 'Bush' white house is completely done away with.

    The regulations and the regulators in the banking and financial arena all indicate that the 'bush' white house were complicit in the failure of the financial marketplace – the latest revelation being the failure to oversee what damage one man did with his ponzi scheme.

    The damage will continue until the mindset of the Congress and Senate Republicans is changed – because NOTHING will be done with respect to the government agency failures unless and until the people who write the bills authorising this type of action and attitude are replaced with people who are willing to serve the PEOPLE, and not themselves. It there are any democrats in this bunch, let them be held to a greater shame.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  45. MattR

    I don't know which is more disgusting and depressing. The facts presented in this article or the fact that I am not the least bit surprised to hear them.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  46. Tom, SC

    The FAA is like a lawyer that is representing both sides of a conflict. One client is getting the short end of the stick. That client is usually the flying public. It's time the FAA starts representing the American people.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  47. Stark

    Perhaps I was misinformed. I'd thought that FAA was stripped of its mandate to promote aviation commerce several years ago, and was left only with the enforcement mandate.

    This, of course, is in contrast with USDA, which still has the dual mandate of maintaining safety of food and drug supplies, while also promoting American agriculture.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  48. tony

    It's gotta be GW's fault...only makes sense. My groceries were bagged incorrectly, my bread was smashed and eggs were cracked, I blamed President Bush for that, you see he did not regulate the bread industry to make the bread harder and he did not regulate the poultry industry correctly because the eggs were not strong enough to withstand the forces of the 2 lb package of meat that the FDA regulates. Sorry George I just realized it's all your fault!

    July 2, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  49. CharlesLH

    The FAA wasted time and money putting a very good friend out of business. They claimed he was "renting out" his Part 135 certificate and though he spent $30,000 fighting it because he believed the FAA was wrong, he finally gave up and turned in his certificate. An accomplished pilot, with over 20,000 hours in military and civilian flying, he NEVER had a safety violation while in business and was a stickler regarding training and safe operation of the aircraft on his certificate.

    Nonetheless, the FAA felt it was necessary to put him out of business and frankly, break his heart. Flying was his life and safe flying was his goal – on every flight and with every pilot he trained. Good job guys at FAA – he died this year a broken man...

    July 2, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  50. JJ's wife

    There is not a pilot I know that does not have safety forefront in his mind! Mr. Monteleon's tatics were reminicent of an atom bomb. Every single issue was major and he made no effort to work with the pilots on issues that he found. How can you have safety and trust when you breed fear and anxiety?
    I have respect for the many FAA COI's that kept me safe and worked. well with pilots and reported the problems when appropriate. Let's not forget that the US has one of the safest track records out there, we owe that to the FAA and the piots that fly the skies.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:28 pm |
  51. Jürgen Orlok

    For me from Germany it is very interesting how you in the US handle things like this.
    This is an obvious case of instutional corruption !
    We in Germany have the same kind of problems.
    The remarkable difference is that you in the US bring it to the public and try to crack down on it.
    We in Germany don't even find in the press.

    You name war war
    We have to name war fight or humanitarian support !

    On the other hand you are actually the most criminal nation on the world – It is hard to understand .

    July 2, 2009 at 3:28 pm |
  52. George

    Chris
    You are 100 percent right on.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  53. Paul W from Santa Clara

    Gov't of Big Business, By Big Business, For Big Business. It will take generations to repair the damage from the worst Administration in American History. That is, for those who survive it.

    As much umbrage as we can muster over Marion Blakeley's actions, we have to acknowledge that Bush and Cheney's actions and appointments have resulted in multiple deaths. Marion Blakeley caused people to die, and got rich for it.

    And the FAA isn't the only agency that betrayed its mandate.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  54. Aircraft Technician

    There's an even more disturbing fact in this story. For years, the Aviation Safety Inspector Positions have been reserved for Retired Military Personnel. I wasn't aware that the U.S. military ran a Part 121/135 Air Carrier Operation or had a Part 145 Repair Station License. I am afraid that the "Whistle Blowing" is coming from the very few Inspectors that are actual technically oriented/qualified/certified employees. FAA Licensed, Airframe & Powerplant Mechanics are applying for the Aviation Safety Inspector positions and being turned down. Imagine how much more you would know if the informants were informed.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  55. don corpier

    this is typical of the federal govt. criminals-lets cover up our crimes and screw the public. the whistle blower legislation is a joke just like the feds. it does not protect those individuals that have the balls to speak the truth. if you think obama is going to change things think again. this man has lied and reneged on so many promises that it makes me want to puke. i worked and voted for obama-what a joke. the faa is nothing more than the voice of the air line industry. they dont give a rats ass about your safety nor does the congress and the president unless it causes too many unanswered questions. wake up america you are getting screwed again.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  56. Brad

    27 of how many current cases? what is "improper"? and what constitutes a "concern" or "issue"? (genuinely asking these questions, not making excuses)

    "Though passenger safety is at stake, the Office of Special Counsel found the FAA has repeatedly deferred to the airlines it regulates."
    This statement also lacks any context. a) passenger safety is always at stake. b)was deferring to the airline inappropriate or undermining safety?

    I see things in this industry everyday that scare me but you will never convince me it is unsafe to fly. At the end of the day I'd still much rather be in the air than on the highway.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  57. afraid to fly

    I've been afraid to fly and my wife thinks I'm paranoid about this stuff.
    Guess I'm not so paranoid after all.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  58. Josh

    If you have to blame Bush for everything, you have an IQ lower than Forrest Gump. Congress should probably get more blame than the President, they are the lawmakers and breakers. But no, we continue to vote in the incumbant because the name looks familiar.

    Now go home and shop at Wal-mart and further ruin our economy but make sure you blame Bush when you lose your job.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  59. jloome

    The link headline on this story is inaccurate. There is no qualifier in the piece as to how many whistleblower cases there were in total, it merely states how many were ignored.

    So it's impossible to say, from this story, whether it was a majority of whistleblower complaints.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  60. Michael

    I'm not suprised, if you are an airline or airline contractor and you identify problems, you are usually removed within 3-4 months after you've identified a potential problem or operational practice. I know, I spent 5 years in the industry and was accused of being too safety conscience. Many rules and regulations are on the books just to satisfy the FAA. As a former contract employee with a major airline, I will never fly again.....

    July 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  61. Mike Jones

    IMHO, as long as Federal agency budgets are funded by the industry groups being regulated, there will never be pure regulation and oversight in the public interest.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  62. Kevin

    Joe, how do you expect people to get over it? This is public safety. While I argue with nothing you say regarding the FAA, DEA etc., it it still HUGELY important especially in light of what we have seen with airplane crashes this year alone.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  63. cbird

    whoops that would be aug 81 Old wounds stay fresh a long time...

    July 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  64. VPDesign

    SAD, VERY SAD....[In 2003, former FAA administrator Marion Blakey established a “Customer Service Initiative” that defined airlines as customers, rather than the flying public. The current Transportation Department inspector general Calvin Scovel, found, “FAA’s definition of its customer has had a pervasively negative, although unintended, impact on its oversight program.”]...SOUNDS JUST LIKE THE FDA, where the average American is not the one who is protected, it is Big Pharma since they are the FDA's "customer".

    July 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  65. bob

    And yet somehow aviation keeps getting safer. 2007 and 2008 marked the first two year period without airliner fatalities in the US or Canada or by US or Canadian carriers since the birth of the jet. 2008 had a total of 7 fatal events for aircraft capable of carrying more than 10 people, worldwide. There have been a total of 9 US carrier fatal crashes since 2001, 3 of them being 9/11 and one being a runway overrun by Southwest that resulted in the death of an individual on the ground.

    Do you really think the FAA isn't doing its job?

    July 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  66. Joe

    Someone should be looking very closely and very seriously at suppliers and manufacturers of aircraft and aircraft equipment. As an example, there was a recent situation with an aircraft company that rushed a new business jet into the market place with the approval of the FAA when there were documented problems with that aircraft. Another example, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s private jet that experienced smoke in the cockpit during a recent flight.

    The FAA is only a part of the whole problem. When suppliers can sell defective products to the industry with FAA approval, that's a big problem!!! As a former whistle blower who paid the ultimate price of being laid off from an aircraft supplier because of my documented concerns on a defective product, I can tell you first hand that when a company uses statement like "the pilot should be able to operate the plane without instrumentation as a back up" and use that statement to justify selling poor quality or defective equipment, that's a really big problem!!! These companies are putting profits over safety in many situations.

    I never worked for a company that used words to fix physical problems like the one that laid me off for whistle blowing.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  67. cbird

    As a striking ATC Chicago Center north wing, I've not been in a plane since Reagan fired us in aug 01.Miss the rush but not the bs. Wonder how many people realize that was the beginning of the end for working class folks in America? We may have been the first whose jobs were outsourced (or insourced) so that our grievances and concerns wouldn't have to be dealt with. Btw ALPA. you threw us to the wolves...

    July 2, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  68. Ron

    You know, most of the world works this way. Nepotism, favoritism, putting unqualified people in important jobs because somebody owes somebody a favor, etc, etc. Just great! The Bush administration was the worst at this. Then if someone complained, or, in other words, tried to tell the TRUTH about what was going on, they were summarily fired. The FAA, the DEA, the EPA, the FDA, the AMA, the ADA, OSHA, etc, are all about the same – disappointingly led by unqualified cronies of somebody. Oh well, it was ever thus!

    July 2, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  69. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Isn't this the republican dream? That all government functions should be privatized and let the industry and its executives decide everything for themselves? That's exactly what they're getting with the FAA. No politics, just hardcore business by the executives of the industry. No regulation. It's all for profit. It's completely free market this way. If you're a passanger who just died in a plane crash because an airline executive at the head of FAA decided not to regulate his beloved airline, you can file your complaint or switch to a different airline... also NOT regulated by the FAA... lol!
    Have you noticed the pattern that all government corruption, waste, and exploitation stems from the government outsourcing its functions to private interests? That it arises when government stops regulating and just lets private executives do what they want?

    July 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  70. Bill Roby

    My last flight was in the 80s or early 90s and I have never been on a commercial plane since.

    It was a Alaska airlines flight from Phoenix to Seattle. Upon boarding the plane and seeing the condition it was in I should have immediately left the aircraft, but I wanted to get home. At least half of the interior paneling was missing there was conduit and wiring hanging out everywhere. They had tried to protect some wiring by using duct tape and cardboard between the ribs of the airplane.

    A pipe that brings in fresh air was broken over the seat across the aisle from me. When the pilots throttled the engines for takeoff it started snowing out of the broken pipe. The man sitting there looked back at the stewardess and asked if he could sit somewhere else, she said there was an open seat in first class.

    He was running up the aisle as the plane accelerated down the runway, and almost made it all the way to first-class before the aircraft rotated. He did manage to make it to the new seat only with great difficulty.

    Once we were up to altitude and in level flight I noticed the aircraft was cork screwing through the air as it did not have sufficient structural strength.

    I politely asked the stewardess to request the pilot to have the FAA meet the plane when we landed. My request was flatly denied.

    When I politely asked the stewardess a second time to have the FAA meet the aircraft on landing, I was informed that if I didn't shut up and drop it I would be arrested for air piracy.

    I have not flown in a commercial jet since.

    For airlines to get away with this type of crap requires collusion within the FAA. Perhaps we need a cheap outdoor prison up by Prudo-bay Alaska. A place exclusively for corrupt government bureaucrats, it should be close to the areas were all those starving polar bears are roaming around looking for something to eat.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  71. Peter E

    Raise your hand if you think any of this is surprising!

    July 2, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  72. Terrible swift sword

    If the FAA has airline safety under its purview, and if it is actively working against whistleblowers and covering up legitimate safety problems, then the obvious next question is, what is their motivation for working against their own charge?
    Unfortunately, this logic leads you straight to corruption, doesn't it?

    PS And if part of its purview is also promoting commerce, please explain how ignorance that leads to plane crashes promotes greater air travel.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  73. MoJo

    Why does every change for safety sake have to be written in blood? The tragedy of poor safety compliance is so great.....how many have to die before the FAA and the Airline industry get their acts together?

    July 2, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  74. Obama Fan

    I work for an airline, and if the general public knew how cozy the relationships were between the FAA and the heritage airlines in particular, they would be disgusted. This relationship is just as bad in terms of passenger saftey as the relationship between the SEC and AIG! Passengers should be outraged and demand better of their government!!!

    July 2, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  75. Michael , Kansas City MO

    One of my major concerns with the FAA is Senator McCaskill (D-MO). She acts like she is a FAA paid lobbyist instead of a national policy maker and problem solver. She blindly follows any FAA recommendation and promotes the FAA agenda regardless of the dangers it creates.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  76. Canadian Flyer

    Let me clarify, i'm NOT a pilot....I ride in the back taking care of the ill or injured folk.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  77. Carl DeFranco

    While Air Commerce may be one part of the FAA mandate, if safety is made a second concern, the commerce will quickly head down the tubes. Even as relatively, emphasize relatively, safe as air travel might be, if the public perception is that safety is being shortchanged, they will stop flying and start driving again. It only took a small nudge for business to tank during this decade, and the airlines are still not is great shape.

    Even if the lives counted for naught, the cost of the Buffalo incident to Colgan and their Continental partners will be significant, and felt for years. We have the FAA for a reason, and if they choose to shortchange us in any of their functions, the public has been cheated.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  78. Bob L

    The culture of "cronyism" if you will, has been endemic within the FAA for quite some time, at least since the end of government imposed airline regulation. As a result, the issues commonly addressed by the NTSB have had relatively little impact on the rules and regulatory practices imposed on airline operations. Private civil operations are another matter; they are stringently enforced because in one way, they do not have the monetary nor political lobbying strength that the ATA's and AIAs have (except for AOPA). Point is that not only are airline and FAA executives "shared" between themselves, there is no vehicle in place within DoT to make FAA abide even by the DoT Inspector General findings. This is a serious problem that is not only a breach of trust with the flying public but severely impacts the development of the Next Generation Air Transportation system now touted by the FAA. Originally envisioned as a separate operating organization comprised of 6 government organizations (DoD, DHS, DoC, NASA, FAA and WH OSTP), the FAA is now solely responsible for its implementation. There is no real objective vision since the lead and 5 of the top division chiefs within the Joint Program and Development Office are FAA officials. And, by the way, the airline industry is not only well represented within JPDO, they have leadership functions as well. Not only will the eventual development and implementation of technology improvements to the National Airspace System be stunted, they will be late and over cost. Technology and process improvements to increase system efficiency are available now but are thwarted by special interests and ailrine manufacturer lobbying (read: Boeing). So, the whistle blower issue is definitley serious, but it is only the tip of the iceberg in the FAA ineptitude. And do not expect Sec DoT to clean this up soon, career bureaucrats run the agency and until they are retired or provided incentives not to parlay the interests of the airline industry into rules and regulations, things will remain the same.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  79. Bob Ramos

    But, the agency has resisted calls to establish an independent office to investigate whistle-blower safety claims. The pending House bill to reauthorize FAA would require the agency to establish such an office. The Senate still has to write its version of the billBut, the agency has resisted calls to establish an independent office to investigate whistle-blower safety claims. The pending House bill to reauthorize FAA would require the agency to establish such an office. The Senate still has to write its version of the bill
    --------------------

    I and my people fly a lot on business, so my company has a vital interest in airline safety.

    I sincerely hope that Congress passes, and the President signs into law, a bill that would establish such an independent office. Without it, regardless of the Administration's claims, whistle-blowers will continue to be ignored.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  80. R Miller

    Lack of FAA oversight of the airline industry became apparent when it caved in to industry resistance and failed to impose tighter security regulations rhat mighy have prevented 9/11

    July 2, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  81. Canadian Flyer

    although I don't have the 25 years that Todd has in the industry, I see violations in duty time and violations in landing visibility minimums all the time in the air ambulance industry in canada...but you'll never hear about them. It's a money-making business for a few small air operators and if we speak up, we lose our jobs...there are some days when I am downright scared to go to work and fly. There is pressure to fly in unsafe weather conditions and to fly past our legally allowed duty time (Some days we fly for 18 hours...though the paperwork never reflects any violation of the 14 hour duty day that we are allowed to work). Sometimes the company owners don't allow you to have the minimum required rest before setting you back to work for another "14" hours...

    July 2, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  82. SaintGenesius

    Carrie Parker Peery July 2nd, 2009 2:07 pm ET

    This is completely ridiculous………….either the FAA needs to be privitized or get politics out of it. We are talking about safety here people.

    That's the problem, the FAA is essentially privatized. What the FAA needs to start doing is acting like a government agency tasked with regulating the safety of the flying public –NOT promoting air transportation.

    SG

    July 2, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  83. Joel

    I think alot of these agencies should have adapt a self funded model like the EPA, where it is in their interest to find violations rather then to hide them. This will also help save tax dollars.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  84. Kitty

    Right on Chris at 1:53.
    Todd, you had a low level job, it's the folks at the Top that a 'blind' to the 'little people' travel by air.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  85. jason moxter

    Once again the legacy of the Bush administration continues to show it ugly head. Chris is absolutely correct. Our children were not protected from lead products, our food and drugs were tainted and the FDA did nothing and did not care, OSHA ignored safety issues for workers, etc. etc. The harm of Bush and his stupid cronies will be with us for a long time. Pity the children and adults that have died because of their umbilical cord to industry and business, and to hell with the people of America!

    July 2, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  86. brian

    One more rat's nest of an agency whose responsibility to the public has been decimated by the sheer stupidity and abject imorallity of 8 years of the Bush Regime. The FAA, EPA, FRC, FDA, all burned of the corporate altar to the Gods of the Free Market. The neo-con "thinkers" brilliant philosophy can be distilled down to "Government Bad...Corporations Good". I want to see Investigations, trials, and jail time for the last 8 years of crimes. And don't even get me started about a War Crimes tribunal.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  87. Joel

    Like this is even really that bad, only a couple hundred people die at most on any given year in plane crashes. The FDA needs it more then the FAA. The deaths number in the thousands annually from needless drugs that should have never passed clinical study phases. Phen Phen, Vioxx, Hydroxycut anyone?

    July 2, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  88. Cockpit voice

    In my career I have been very fortunate to work with excellent employees at the FAA. They have been professional, knowledgeable, and have gone "above and beyond" on numerous occasions. The FAA office I am talking about is the Helena Flight Standards Districts Office in Helena, Montana.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  89. CH

    Bush Derangement Syndrome, and it only took two posts to get there!! Impressive, Chris.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  90. Chris - Seattle

    I worked for UA for 5 yrs. as a RSR and used planes like taxi cabs for all sorts of weekend excursions. After being on the inside of the industry for 5 yrs you learn of/hear of things that aren't very compelling for humans to use the most convenient form of travel(not the safest). I won't go into my grocery list of things, but I will say that the only way you'll get me on a plane now-a-days is in a body bag back to my hometown when I'm dead. I broke that rule 4yrs ago for an old girlfriend who wanted me to come visit her in San Diego, since then I've stood firm to my not getting on a plane! To all the minimalist out there that say: if it's your time, safer than driving a car, etc..etc, you keep on thinking that and your time will come a lot sooner than you or your family would desire!

    July 2, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  91. Todd

    In 25 years of work in the aviation industry, I have never met one person in a responsible position who wasn't totally committed to the concept of safety first. Safety is our bread and butter, if we lose the trust of the flying public on that issue, our industry is out of business.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  92. joe

    Get over it already. The FAA like the FDA, DEA, TSA is not, has not, and never will be about so-called 'safety', it's about self-perpetuation and protecting the power elite $$$$$.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  93. Carrie Parker Peery

    This is completely ridiculous.............either the FAA needs to be privitized or get politics out of it. We are talking about safety here people.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  94. George

    Like a lawyer from the FAA told me one time. The FAA is like the tail that wagged the dog, The dog being the DOT. The DOT IG has no power against the FAA. Believe me I know !

    July 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  95. tj

    As an employee of FAA, I can tell you this is just the tip of the iceberg in poor management. Managers immediately tell us to file a grievance whenever we get jerked around. A contractor that handles travel pay and other issues for FAA has been charging us for using rental cars instead of driving our personal cars to training in OK City. That's fine for those that live/work in the lower 48 but for those of us in AK, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Guam, they will only pay from the port of entry to OKC. Ak's POE is Seattle so we are expected to get our POV to Seattle so we can save the Gov't rental car money. Instead of working with other managers to fix the idiocracy, managers just say grieve it. No wonder we are ranked 214 out of 216 for the worst Gov't job to have!

    July 2, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  96. bjnj

    If these incidents were subject to Sarbanes Oxley, Monteleon’s supervisor would be serving TIME. The whistle blowers should learn to:
    1. Keep notes, memo to file
    2. Wear wires, the federal Office of Special Counsel should provide like any CRIMINAL investigation.
    3. Reprisals are not safety issues, they are criminal matters.

    Where's our celebrity aka commander in chief. Send Gibbs down to the FAA to kick ass and take names. IF I were the Commander in Chief IN CHARGE of the FAA, I'd at least summon the PIC (person in charge) for an explanation. The government needs ACOUNTABILITY not a Comander in Chief with a pretty smile.

    BJNJ

    July 2, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  97. Chris

    While this is an important news story, it is hardly surprising nor is it something new. It is also not isolated to the FAA. The Bush Administration did not believe in regulation or government oversight of industry. They couldn't just close the regulatory agencies, so they filled them with political appointees who were averse to their oversight responsibilities, they changed the relationship between regulators and the industries they oversaw, they gutted the budgets of regulatory agencies so they couldn't do their jobs, and they punished career employees who didn't get on board with the new program and continued to find fault in the companies they regulated. You could write a similar story about any federal regulatory agency and you could trace the causes back to the attitude of the Bush administration and their appointees towards the regulatory responsibility.

    July 2, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  98. Captain Airline Pilot

    The FAA has TWO mandates of EQUAL importance: air safety and promoting AIR COMMERCE.

    July 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
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