Valujet 592 Tragedy: 10 Years Later

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the 10-year anniversary of the ValuJet Flight 592 crash in the Florida Everglades, Professional Airways Systems Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS) expressed serious concerns about the continued understaffing of Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) inspectors and lack of implementation of the Air Transport Oversight System (ATOS) created in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Following the tragedy, Congress found that insufficient FAA inspector staffing was an urgent concern. But in the last decade, the FAA has failed to hire a sufficient number of inspectors even as the demand on the current workforce has increased dramatically.

“Understaffing of inspectors is one of the most important safety issues facing the FAA today,” said Tom Brantley, PASS national president. “As we look back on the ValuJet tragedy, it is very troubling to know that the systemic problems that caused the crash have not been fully addressed.”

ATOS, which was created by the FAA to improve and prioritize oversight of the air carrier industry through a risk management process, has never been fully implemented. In September 2005, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report confirming that the FAA had failed to fully implement the program among all 127 air carriers, citing only 16 air carriers in the ATOS program. At the time the report was issued, the FAA claimed that it would move the remaining air carriers to the ATOS program by the end of this year.

“It is appalling that it’s been 10 years and the FAA has only integrated 16 of 127 of air carriers into this program,” said Brantley. “It is imperative that the FAA follow through on implementing programs created in the wake of tragedies like ValuJet 592. Otherwise, a program such as ATOS simply becomes window dressing that fails to solve the problems it was created to fix.”


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PASS represents more than 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries, develop flight procedures and perform quality analyses of the aviation systems. For more information, visit the PASS website at www.passnational.org.

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