Comair Mechanics Pull Out of FAA Safety Program

 - August 2, 2010, 10:46 AM

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 142 today said it has withdrawn from the maintenance Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) at Delta Air Lines regional subsidiary Comair. 

“We have discussed the problems with this dysfunctional program with both Comair and the FAA for months,” said IAM District 142 president Tom Higginbotham. “We no longer have any faith that this program will ever be managed according to the regulations.” 

Comair’s IAM members have participated in ASAP, the FAA program that encourages employees to report safety concerns voluntarily by guaranteeing limited immunity from disciplinary action, since 2008. An Event Review Committee (ERC)–comprised of representatives from the FAA, Comair and the union–is supposed to review the reports in an effort to identify systemic weaknesses issues and develop corrective actions to prevent a reoccurrence. 

However, the IAM charges Comair and the FAA with taking punitive action against union members who have submitted voluntary reports under ASAP. According to the union, Comair also has “failed to provide a collaborative environment needed for an effective program to work. 

“At this stage it’s really not benefiting anyone,” an IAM spokesman told AIN. “There just has been no action on the company’s side or the FAA’s side. It seems they want to run their little deal on the side and just leave us out of the picture…It appears they like the way it used to be. They’ll find the mechanic made an error and then just write the guy up.” 

Comair, for one, denies the charges. “We are supportive of the maintenance ASAP program, and have been throughout the process,” said a Comair spokesperson. “We remain committed to working with IAM union leadership to address their concerns regarding the program.”  

The union, conversely, claims that neither Comair nor the local FAA personnel have shown any such commitment. 

“We should not have to wait for an accident to occur before addressing safety issues,” said Higginbotham. “We are disappointed that Comair failed to take this program, which is effective and runs well at over 35 other carriers, seriously.” 

The IAM represents 530 Comair mechanics and related employees in Cincinnati, Boston, New York, Detroit and Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.