Blowing the Lid Off the FAA’s “Safety Culture” (Again)

Not that it’s any surprise to me, but CNN reports that in its investigations the federal Office of Special Counsel found more than two dozen safety related concerns were not addressed properly within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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’s what I and a score of other FAA employees have been saying all along: that the FAA ignores safety concerns to the detriment of the aviation system.  And I’m sure that the 27 cases the Office of Special Counsel investigated are just the tip of the iceberg.

The problem with safety issues with the airlines is due in large part to the FAA shirking its responsibility as a regulatory agency and getting friendly with the airlines it’s supposed to be overseeing (deciding to treat them as “customers”) .  Ever heard the business expression, “The customer is always right”?

That attitude leaves the flying public (the real “customers” of the aviation system) out in the cold without anyone properly regulating safety issues with the airlines.

As for failing to address air traffic safety issues, any air traffic controller who’s tried to correct a safety related problem knows all too well the real “safety culture” that exists within the FAA.  I’ve blogged about it here before (1 2 3).

Its lackadaisical attitude is further proved by the fact that the FAA intends to deploy its new computer system ERAM per schedule in spite of the many bugs and problems with it.  After all, clearly staying “on schedule” is more important than any safety concerns.

Unfortunately even though the FAA has been exposed (again), I have little hope that anything will change this time around.  This isn’t the first time that whistle-blower allegations in the FAA have been proved to be true and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

And it shows that FAA management has refused to alter its approach to safety concerns, regardless of how many times its misguided policies have been exposed, and regardless of how many “safety” programs they institute to give the appearances that they’re a safety oriented organization.

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