Friday, May 13, 2011

Affidavit of Captain Hanley re Colgan Air Crash Hearing

Affidavit of Daniel W. Hanley for Inclusion as Part of Public Congressional

Record for Hearing Conducted by Senate Aviation Operations, Safety, and

Security Subcommittee Chairman Senator Byron Dorgan of June 17, 2009


I, Daniel W. Hanley, being first duly sworn, on oath, states as follows:
1. I am of legal age and competent. This affidavit is made on my personal knowledge of all matters set forth and referenced herein. If sworn and called as a witness in this case, I could, and I would, testify competently as to each fact set forth and incorporated herein by reference.

2. The alleged facts supported with evidence are true and correct to the best of my personal knowledge of the facts, evidence, information and belief.

3. On June 9, 2009 at 11 a.m., I was advised by Mr. Rich Swayze, a staff member on the Senate Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee, that I would not be permitted to testify in either open or closed session of said committee, hence this affidavit is being provided for inclusion as part of public congressional record for this hearing.

4. I am of information and belief that in October 2003, I was ushered through the United Airlines Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at United Airlines directly as a result of my submission of federally-mandated Aviation Safety Awareness Reports which, among other issues, addressed concerns regarding crew fatigue, reckless scheduling of aircrews, aircrew morale issues, and alleged stonewalling of communication processes within the company, that included the Federal Aviation Administration Principle Operation Inspector.

5. I currently possess documentation, mental health records, prior military flight and health records, and availability of credible witnesses in support of what I state herein. I allege that, in 35-years of flying civil, naval, and commercial jet aircraft, I have never failed a check ride, flight physical, or any psychological screening and have an untarnished record with no flight violations. I estimate to have flown over 20,000 flight hours in numerous civilian and naval aircraft including the P-3 Orion, as well as the B-737, B-727, A-320, B-757/767, and B-777 commercial jet aircraft at United Airlines.

6. My U.S. Navy service record is available on request, which demonstrates that I consistently ranked in the top 1% of my peer group throughout my ten years as a Naval Officer and aviator, and was recommended for accelerated promotion on all but one or two officer evaluation reports in 10 years. In 1978, I was selected for the Operations Research Program at the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California and was nominated for the Navy Weapon System Acquisition Management Program (WSAM), but declined these tempting assignments to pursue a career in commercial aviation.

7. Upon graduation from Primary Flight Training at NAS Saufley Field in Pensacola, Florida in 1973 while flying the T-34B, I was selected as ‘Student of the Week’ out of 228 graduating students. Upon graduation from Advanced Flight Training at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas flying the TS-2A Tracker, I was selected as ‘Student of the Month’. Upon graduating from Replacement Air Group Training Squadron flying the P-3 Orion, I was ranked number one in my class. In my fleet squadron, I became the youngest and only Lt (jg) Plane Commander/Mission Commander well in advance of schedule and of that of my contemporaries. Additionally, I was the youngest and junior ranked instructor pilot in the squadron, as well as a NATOPS Safety Instructor and maintenance functional check pilot. Additionally, I served as a P-3 Subject Matter Expert in development of a training syllabus for fleet wide use for the P-3C Update II Project. In 1984, I received a Navy Achievement Medal serving as Operations Officer while attached to Patrol Squadron Sixty at NAS Glenview, Illinois.

8. I was on the Dean’s List at Southern Illinois University and graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics. Upon expulsion as a United Airlines B-777 Captain, during the time frame 2004-2006, I attended Georgia State University full-time while majoring in Psychology and World Religious Studies and maintained a near straight-A average. I am a few hours short of receipt of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, and have reenrolled for the fall 2009 semester for continuance of my education.

9. The Air Line Pilots Association motto is “Schedule with Safety”. I allege, based on my own perceptions and personal experiences, as well as inputs received from many other aircrew members at United Airlines in 2003, that United Airlines Flight Operations management personnel engaged in a crew scheduling process during bankruptcy that may have endangered the lives of the travelling public, due to crew fatigue, poor morale, inadequate and unconcerned management leadership, massive problematic downgrade of pilots, and many other issues. These situations were precipitated by the alleged leveraged position of management in making outrageous concession demands of employees in an effort to receive an ATSB loan guarantee that was never granted, and which propelled United Airlines into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It was these and other legal, financial, and political pressures that greatly diminished the ability of ALPA to adequately address safety issues and legally support those pilots who did via appropriate federal communicative processes. This perception was gained by me from actual statements made at the time by both my JFK Chief Pilot, ALPA council chairman, and others.

10. I allege that commercial aviation safety must necessarily be maintained in a vacuum without external financial, legal, and political pressures and influences exerted on aircrew members wishing to report known safety deficiencies for fear of undue recriminations.

11. The first sentences of the Air Line Pilots Association Code of Ethics are thus stated:

AN AIRLINE PILOT will keep uppermost in his mind that the safety, comfort, and well-being of the passengers who entrust their lives to him are his first and greatest responsibility.

 He will never permit external pressures or personal desires to influence his judgment, nor will he knowingly do anything that could jeopardize flight safety.

 He will remember that an act of omission can be as hazardous as a deliberate act of commission, and he will not neglect any detail that contributes to the safety of flight, or perform any operation in a careless or reckless manner.

 Consistent with flight safety, he will at all times operate his aircraft in manner that will contribute to the comfort, peace of mind, and well-being of his passengers, instilling trust in him and the airline he represents.

 Once he has discharged his primary responsibility for the safety and comfort of his passengers, he will remember that they depend upon him to do all that is possible to deliver them to their destination at the scheduled time.

 If a disaster should strike, he will take whatever action he deems necessary to protect the lives of his crew and his passengers.

12. The Federal Aviation Administration website states:
Our Mission

Our continuing mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.

Our Vision

We continue to improve safety and efficiency of flight. We are responsive to our customers and are accountable to the taxpayer and the flying public.

Our Values

• Safety is our passion. We are the world leaders in aerospace safety.
• Quality is our trademark. We serve our stakeholders, our customers, and each other.
• Integrity is our character. We do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
• People are our strength. We treat people as we want to be treated.

13. I allege that beginning in 2002 until July 12, 2003 when I wrote my first formal letter of complaint to Captain Paul Whiteford, United ALPA MEC Chairman, I had countless face-to-face and phone conversations and email exchanges with both United flight management and ALPA representatives regarding a whole host of safety concerns, many of which had been expressed to me by other aircrew members, but were not being adequately addressed by company management personnel. It must be emphasized that throughout this ordeal that ended in December 2003, I was attempting to be most cautious not to draw media attention or initiate litigation of any sort, as I feared that such actions might compromise the success of United’s emergence from bankruptcy, since the company was allegedly teetering on the brink of Chapter 7 liquidation.

14. I further allege that my actions and conduct were commensurate with the stated Air Line Pilots Association motto and Code of Ethics, in consonance with the Federal Aviation Administration Mission statement, and was in keeping with the highest standards of United Airlines stated number one priority of safety. I genuinely believed that what I was doing was in keeping with every legal, moral, and ethical principle engrained in me as a pilot since I first took flight in a Cessna-150 in 1968 and carried throughout my entire Naval flying experiences, and through my career at United Airlines. I honestly believed that I would have the full support of ALPA and the FAA since I was sustaining the legal, moral, and ethical high ground in reporting this to United Airlines management and the FAA Principle Operation Inspector assigned to the airline.

15. On the ground while at the gate, aircraft security is coordinated by the captainand the ground security coordinator with the final decision made by the captain regarding continuance of a flight. Shortly after 9/11, United Airlines senior management authorized flight crew members, who felt they were at risk due to security concerns, to deplane with pay protection for that segment of their schedule. In 2003, due to a security breach on my flight at the gate in London, wherein the flight attendants perhaps averted a north Atlantic diversion due to advisement to me of a passenger condition, I happened to notice flight attendant supervisors who had boarded the plane that was being inspected without passengers onboard that were badgering my cabin crew for allegedly delaying the flight. I asked them to step aside so that I could explain just how helpful this crew was to me in my making the decision to have the aircraft inspected (most of the passengers told me that if this passenger remained on board, they weren’t going to take the flight). I then asked them a hypothetical question regarding what their actions would be if both I and the ground security coordinator were agreeable to taking the flight but had flight attendants who still experienced consternation and wanted to deplane. They responded that they would give the flight attendant in question a direct order to take the flight and, if she refused, she would be terminated from employment at United Airlines. I asked them both if this was stated United Airlines upper-management policy, and they both agreed that it was. Believing that this might just be a local London base policy, I queried both the Newark and JFK in-flight offices and actually saw the intimidating policy in writing. A Newark-based in-flight supervisor wrote a stinging letter to my JFK Chief Pilot just because I asked to see this policy in writing, which I felt impinged on the CLR concepts that include effective cockpit-cabin communications.

16. To keep this matter in house, I filed a Captain’s Report to address my concerns, as the flight attendants serve as the eyes and ears in the back of the cabin since the promised TV cameras were never installed. A week or so later, I received a call from an ALPA safety representative telling me that management and ALPA had reviewed my report, and although they agreed with what I stated, felt that ALPA was somewhat restricted due to the fact that United Airlines was in the midst of attempting to receive post-9/11 ATSB loan monies. Paraphrasing, he remarked, “C’mon Dan, be a team player…we’re in bankruptcy and need this loan. Why don’t you just drop this issue? Management thinks that you’re just being a big-mouthed whistleblower. How do you want me to dispose of this report?” I told him what he could do with the report, but only after querying him as to where ALPA was drawing the distinction between aviation safety and airline financial survival concerns. I emphasized to him that I wasn’t willing to compromise my principles as a captain with regard to safety issues in spite of the financial condition of United Airlines and the unfavorable negotiating position that ALPA found itself in at present. Subsequent discussions with numerous chief pilots and ALPA officials indicated to me that the entire bankruptcy process was impinging on aviation safety issues, hence, after repeated stonewalls of all issues, I intended to write CEO Glenn Tilton a letter addressing this concern. The remaining tragic conclusion of my aviation career may be found in the previously submitted affidavit.

17. Since 2006, I have been contacted by numerous airline pilots from all carriers who have shared their similar stories with me. Additionally, other pilots who have not personally had such experiences, but are knowledgeable of the EAP process for removing ‘dissident’ pilots have provided much information and insight and are willing to provide sworn testimony.

18. In light of ASAP program cancellations last year at Delta, UsAir, and American, with the current pending litigation hanging over the head of United pilots, coupled with the exposure of whistleblower suppression at Colgan Air that could have possibly prevented that air disaster, other pilots and myself feel morally and ethically compelled to speak out. We already have and will continue to do so until this problem is rectified by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration.

19. I could have turned my back on aviation and walked away from all of these concerns five years ago, but my conscience would not allow it. I may have been retired from the left seat in 2003, but I will always be a captain in my heart and in my soul, just as I will always be a Naval Aviator. It does count just how many times an airline pilot walks down the jet way with regard to airline safety. Poor pay and working conditions do very much contribute to poor morale, which also adds stress and distraction into the safety equation, which hasn’t been addressed by the Transportation subcommittee.

20. While concerns are being expressed regarding the impact of commuting on airline safety, please be advised that it has come to my attention that most first officers at the trunk carriers are working full-time outside the airline as their primary source of income. Many have told me that once they get their business established, that they are going to resign from their airline jobs, as the continued hassle is no longer worth it. Additionally, many line captains that I’ve talked to are working absolute minimum hours to keep the job since their pensions were stolen from them in bankruptcy. Apathy and poor morale in the airline industry amongst pilots is a cancer to safety more insidious than most of the issues addressed by the committee to date.

21. For airline CEOs who recently stated that pilot pay has no impact on the level of safety in flight operations, I would suggest that they try living on $25,000 for a year without access to any other financial assets, and see what ‘happy campers’ and just how effective and focused they are at their jobs.

22. Further affiant sayeth naught.

SWORN before me on
This day of June 2009