FAA Inspectors Union Questions Timing of $10.2 Million Penalty Against Southwest Airlines

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, the union that represents FAA inspectors, released the following statement in response to the FAA announcement to impose $10.2 million in fines on Southwest airlines for failure to adequately investigate serious maintenance issues. The following comments are from PASS President Tom Brantley.

“It is appalling that the FAA chose to impose this penalty only after several months of investigations by Congress and the threat of a pending hearing instead of immediately addressing the implications brought forward by inspectors over a year ago. The series of events not only highlights the dysfunctional relationship between FAA management and its workforce, but it also perpetuates the fact that the FAA is only willing to take action against the airlines when backed into a corner rather than taking inspectors at their word.

“It is unfortunate that the inspector assigned to Southwest Airlines had to resort to invoking whistleblower protections in order to have his claims validated. Even more unfortunate is that there are other inspectors out there who undergo the same types of retaliatory actions by the FAA and air carriers for simply doing their jobs.

“The relationship between the FAA and the industry has developed into troubling partnerships rather than the FAA maintaining a strong oversight role. Many of these partnerships have grown into more ‘cozy’ relationships that result in the FAA becoming the protector of the airline rather than the flying public, thus weakening the authority of FAA safety inspectors to perform their job and reducing their role as critical safety enforcers. The bottom line is that the FAA appears to be more concerned with keeping airlines solvent rather than safe.”

For more information or questions, please contact Kori Blalock Keller at (202) 293-7277 x110.

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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 http://www.passnational.org/.

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