Whistleblowers Viewed from the Top

AINsafety » May 28, 2012
May 28, 2012, 4:40 PM

In an editorial a few weeks ago, The Washington Post, took the FAA and the DOT to task over reports that indicated neither organization was paying close enough attention to the allegations they had been receiving from whistleblowers, a majority of whom were FAA employees. 

In an unusual rebuttal to the editorial, Michael Huerta, FAA Acting Administrator, teamed up with Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, to answer the charges.

The authors said the Post’s story, “Diminished the importance of significant changes that the FAA has made in how it investigates and responds to these types of allegations. Two years ago, the FAA established an independent office to ensure that whistleblower complaints are thoroughly reviewed and properly handled.” 

“The FAA did not, and does not, hesitate,” Huerta and Rinaldi continued, “to make management changes, institute new procedures and establish strict corrective plans to address safety issues. The FAA replaced an entire management team at a New York air traffic control facility last year when it substantiated a whistleblower complaint. We are confident that this nation’s flying public is safe. This is because the Transportation Department and the FAA have made changes in response to whistleblower disclosures, and because the collaborative relationship between labor and management encourages employees to talk openly about safety concerns.” 

Finally, they concluded, “While we will not dwell on the past, together we will continue to make more improvements so that our aviation system remains the safest in the world.” 

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