Inspectors' Union Raises Concerns Regarding FAA Oversight of Airlines

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Tom Brantley, national president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), released the following statement regarding his upcoming testimony on April 3 before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on FAA oversight of air carriers:

“The FAA has become so focused on working well with the airlines that it has allowed its safety mission to suffer at times. FAA safety inspectors are on the front lines of enforcing aviation safety standards. Yet, on far too many occasions, the FAA has labeled its own safety inspectors as troublemakers for simply reporting violations or allowed airline management to demand the reassignment of an inspector trying to hold a carrier accountable.

“The FAA has not only promoted an internal culture where safety is given second billing, but it has manipulated every aspect of the enforcement process in order to encourage and maintain a positive relationship between the agency and the airlines. Safety inspectors are on the frontline protecting this country’s aviation system and trust should no doubt be placed in their professionalism and expertise. Punishing safety inspectors for discovering violations or impeding them from making safety of the system their priority should not be tolerated.

“Safety inspectors have been relegated to auditors who inspect more paperwork than airplanes, the records obviously do not tell the whole story. Without robust physical inspections, there is no way to know if the data is accurate or complete since it is provided by the airlines. Given the importance of safety to air travel, the FAA is in no position to rely solely on a data-driven system. The process must be reintegrated as a combination of data reporting and physical inspections. With nearly half of the inspector workforce eligible to retire in the next five years, the FAA must address severe understaffing to ensure that it can give proper oversight to the industry. And FAA managers should be rotated on a regular basis to prevent the cozy relationships that appear to be clouding judgment.

“While the announcement last week by FAA management to create a system to make it harder to dismiss issues raised by inspectors is appropriate, it reveals an FAA culture gone awry. Even the FAA recognizes that it is not listening to its inspectors when it has to create new safeguards to do so.”

A copy of PASS’s testimony will be available on April 3 at

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


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



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