Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An Open Letter to DOT/FAA Regarding Commercial Aviation Safety

February 10, 2009
4204 Lakeside Way
Newnan, Georgia 30265

Mr. Calvin L. Scovel III - DOT Inspector General
P.O. Box 708
Fredricksburg, Va 22404

Mr. Ray LaHood – Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 0591

SUBJ: Whistleblowing United Pilots Association


On behalf of the subject association, I recently mailed you the enclosed letters outlining issues concerning commercial aviation safety, in particular with regard to the cancellation of the Aviation Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) by numerous air carriers as a result of punitive measures taken against reporting pilots, when the federal program was specifically designed to guarantee impunity and anonymity in the reporting of critical commercial aviation safety concerns.

Currently, UsAir and American Airlines do not have such programs in place as a result of these actions, while United Airlines presently has a federal court injunction against ALPA pilots on that property that also specifically targets four individual captains, which many active airline pilots and retirees feel potentially abrogates federal aviation law in terms of safety, as specifically outlined in all air carrier Flight Operations Manuals, which is intrinsically a part of Federal Aviation Regulation Part 121. The ASAP program specifics are contained herein and hence, federal laws have been blatantly violated by abrogation of federal aviation program specifications.

As a courtesy to your good offices, please be advised that, in addition to my specific case outlined in my January 28th letter to you, our association is in contact with other ‘retired’ airline pilots whose careers met the same demise as mine, while attempting to report safety issues within their airline via the ASAP program, but were ‘ushered off the property’ by allegedly illicit means, of which these same pilots claim to possess adequate evidence of this wrongful activity. Additionally, there exists witnesses with supporting testimony who are willing to step forth to provide additional information concerning this alleged illegal federal criminal activity. Not only do these wrongful deeds compromise the integrity of the program, but further denigrates airline safety in that other pilots may be reluctant to step forward with valuable safety information, given what they have observed has occurred in the past by those pilots that do so.

Additionally, over the past few years, a significant number of major investigative journalists and others have tracked the evolution and goals of our association, including our reports of these alleged misdeeds. It is unfortunate that the good citizens of this country have to rely on the reporting efforts of the New York Times and others to discover the truth regarding corrupt activities within government and business. But it appears that only when issues are exposed by the media do we observe a responsive government in some cases.

Members of our association believe that the passengers of UsAir 1549 would be more than ‘disheartened’ to learn that just twenty-four days before this accident, the US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA), the union that represents the 5,200 UsAir Pilots, cancelled their ASAP program directly as a result of recriminations suffered by select pilots on that property who attempted to employ ASAP in reporting safety degradations at that airline. We also believe that most airline passengers in this country and abroad would be angry and shocked that this was permitted to occur also.

In addition to the potential of media reporting of these events, please be advised that the exposition of past wrongful actions in cases such as mine and others that I mentioned above, may soon see the legal light of day, as well as coverage in the mainstream media. This would not bode well for the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, or top-level airline managers at select air carriers.

Labor disputes are poor excuses for inadequate government oversight by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, given their stated mission on their websites. The court of public opinion would judge your agencies most harshly, God forbid, should one of these airlines experience a hull loss in the near future without these valuable programs intact.

Request therefore is respectfully made that, at your earliest convenience, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration legally and politically intervene in some manner, with the full support of President Obama, to ensure that these programs are reinstated at UsAir and American Airlines, while attempting to address the concerns of the pilots at United who are at the mercy of a court injunction under appeal, which may not appear on the docket for several months. UsAir 1549 happened without warning.

Are you willing to risk another accident, which may not enjoy such a successful outcome as UsAir 1549, without this safety reporting system in place? Does the travelling public have to learn of these safety frailties in commercial aviation by reading about it in the New York Times?

Let’s hope not on both counts.

"Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect."

~ Captain A. G. Lamplugh ~

Very respectfully,

Dan Hanley
Spokesperson – Whistleblowing United Pilots Association

Encl: Letter dated January 25, 2009 to Calvin Scovell, DOT Inspector General
Letter dated January 28, 2009 to Calvin Scovell, DOT Inspector General, Ray LaHood, Transportation Secretary, and the FAA Administration

Cc: President Barack Obama
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post
Miami Herald
Detroit Free Press
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Sun-Times
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Atlanta Constitution Journal
Denver Post
San Francisco Chronicle
Los Angeles Times
Seattle Times
Congressman Jerry Costello - Chairman, House Aviation Subcommittee
Glenn A. Fine - Inspector General, Department of Justice
Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States
Rita Glavin - Acting Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division
Robert Mueller - FBI Director
Patrick Fitzgerald - District Attorney, Northern District of Illinois
Robert Grant - Chicago FBI Special Agent-in-Charge
Tom Devine - Legal Director, Government Accountability Project
Shanna Devine - Legislative Campaign Director, Government Accountability Project
Debbie Seagraves - Executive Director, ACLU of Georgia
Members of the Whistleblowing United Pilots Association

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