American Airlines: Still not so safe?


eTN had reported about a whistleblower case questioning safety on America’s largest airline, American Airlines.

The New York law firm Seham, Seham, Meltz & Petersen, LLP, in representing whistleblowers, had accused American Airlines of punishing mechanics that report flaws to avoid traffic delays.

Since then, the law firm has received several hundred documents, in particular, the inspectors’ report that, even for the jaded individual, must be deemed shocking, and a memorandum dated March 25, 2015 from the Director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) Office of Audit and Evaluation, H. Clayon Foushee, to Peggy S. Gillian, Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, which states:

“Pursuant to a recent whistleblower investigation completed on behalf of our office, I wanted you to know of cultural concerns at American Airlines which have a direct impact on aviation safety. Six Chicago-based Aviation Maintenance Technicians alleged that maintenance managers had pressured them not to record discrepancies, take shortcuts with maintenance activities, or improperly sign-off on work which was not actually completed. Pressuring mechanics in this way is contrary to regulatory requirements and safe operating practices.

“It also appears that concerns may be much more prevalent across American’s organization than even the complainant’s alleged, affecting maintenance activities in Dallas, New York, Miami, and beyond. Additionally, there exists a substantial likelihood that American has not properly conducted lightning strike inspections for a protracted period of time.

“Although a whistleblower investigation has been completed, we strongly recommend AFS continue an additional investigation to determine the scope, depth, and root causes of these issues.”

The second document is from the Manager of the Audit and Analysis Branch, Vincent L. Murray, III, urging Acting Director Eric S. Harbin, Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to let the FAA know if a violation of AIR 21 has been found so that the FAA could consider appropriate administrative action.

To this day, OSHA has been delaying its investigation despite the FAA’s request that it proceed, and despite the allegations cited to be true by the FAA.

In an eTN article dated June 28, 2016, the headline begs the question yet to be answered, “If the FAA cannot assure airline passenger safety, then who can?”