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In an unusual public rebuke, a government watchdog charged Tuesday that airline safety regulators have lagged in responding to urgent safety problems, including takeoff and landing procedures at one airport that caused some planes to nearly collide. Under pressure to resolve the problem at Detroit, the FAA has issued new instructions to pilots for aborted landings.
Lerner, whose job is to protect from retaliation government employees who expose mismanagement or wrongdoing, has sent the White House and Congress letters detailing seven FAA whistle-blower cases — including the Detroit case — in which safety allegations have been substantiated. In one case, the FAA ordered that emergency medical helicopters be installed with light filters — mainly sheets of specially tinted glass — to prevent glare from instrument panels from interfering with night-vision equipment.
The problem was so severe that at times that pilots couldn’t see oil leak warning lights that were flashing, he said in an interview with The Associated Press. The cases show a pattern dating at least to 2007 in which employees have complained to the special counsel that the FAA refused to heed warnings about significant safety issues and then promised to correct the problems only when forced by oversight agencies, Lerner said. The allegations about controllers at the Long Island center were made public last year by Evan Seeley, a controller who has since been transferred to another facility at his request. Imprecise language used by a controller at the Long Island facility contributed to a near collision between an American Airlines jet with 259 people aboard and two Air Force transport planes southeast of New York City in January 2011. Doug Church, a spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said the union supports the FAA’s current procedures for reporting safety problems. The FAA has one of the highest rates of whistle-blower filings per employee of any government agency, Lerner said. The counsel’s office has received 178 whistle-blower disclosures from FAA employees since 2007, 89 of which related to aviation safety.

This entry was posted in Nation, News and tagged Air Force, Airlines, American Airlines, Congress, International, mph7p4, Nation, National, New York, News, Oil, US, White house. Subscribe to our Daily Digest for independent journalism through the lens of social justice & human rights directly in your inbox. Americn Airlines explained earlier last week that the new self-service baggage drop at MIA revolves around three simple steps. American will ensure staff is on hand should customers need any assistance with the system.
American have also revealed plans to implement the system at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, 25 miles north of Miami International, although no date has been confirmed as yet. In five of the seven cases, the FAA has failed to follow through fully on promised corrections, her office said. Even then, the FAA’s handling of the complaints was satisfactory in only one of the seven cases, she said. At the news conference, the only one she has called in nearly a year on the job, Lerner stopped short of saying FAA’s lapses mean public safety is at risk, but added that the agency failed to respond to serious safety allegations with the urgency they deserve. Over the last several years, the agency has instituted a system that encourages controllers to report their mistakes and other safety problems by promising not to take retaliatory action.
Forty-four cases were referred to the Transportation Department for investigation, and all but five were substantiated. First of all, passengers check in using the self-service kiosk, from which they can print off their own baggage tags.

The Airways logo is protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcasted without the prior written permission of Airways International, Inc. Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner played for reporters at a news conference a recording of a near-collision there on Christmas Day 2009 between a Northwest Airlines plane and an American Eagle regional jet. The case has been referred by the special counsel to the Department of Transportation for further investigation, along with another case that Lerner declined to identify. The program’s aim is to spot safety trends through more complete reporting and to discourage controllers from covering up errors. They then simply attach the tags to their luggage, and take the bags to a designated bag drop-off zone. All photos, unless otherwise noted, are the property of Airchive & AirwaysNews and may not be reproduced without consent. While every care is taken to ensure that the content of Airways is completely accurate, the publisher cannot accept liability for errors and omissions.

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