News Release

Airlines and Whistleblowers

PAUL HUDSON
Hudson is executive director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project and a longtime member of the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee for air safety who represents airline passengers. He said today: “What has in effect happened over the last several years is that airplane safety inspections have been largely privatized.

“The government is allowing airlines to do self-policing — that is, airline employees are charged with doing and monitoring safety inspections. To the extent that government workers do much of anything, it’s mostly just checking over the paperwork.

“We’ve been critical of this approach. At minimum, the airline employees doing this need to have whistleblower protection and should take an oath of office as deputized FAA inspectors. As it is, they are conflicted and may even be offered bonuses that encourage going along with questionable procedures.”

MARSHA COLEMAN-ADEBAYO
President of the No Fear Institute, which is organizing Whistleblower Week in Washington in May, Coleman-Adebayo said today: “The crisis within the aviation industry is just the tip of the iceberg. … The Environmental Protection Agency has voluntary initiatives where industry is policing itself and public health is calculated using a cost/benefit analysis. If the cost is too high, the public suffers. Other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration, fail to protect our food supply.

“The brave whistleblowers we’ve seen this week on the airlines will likely be retaliated against once the cameras have shut down. Congress does not protect people who testify before that body, it only allows them minimal recourse after they’ve been retaliated against.

“Being a whistleblower almost certainly means the end of your career in our system. And it frequently means the end of your life — many whistleblowers I’ve met have died from the stress and from the reprisals.

“A ‘perfect storm’ composed of corruption, silencing of whistleblowers, retaliation and discrimination has been gathering for decades; the outcome of this storm will be devastating.
“I’m currently on leave from the EPA — I testified twice before Congress and been retaliated against. The EPA orchestrated a vicious campaign to force me to take leave without pay. Even with major congressional leaders, such as John Conyers, Sheila Jackson Lee, Tom Davis, Henry Waxman and Chris Van Hollen [writing on my behalf], the EPA has simply ignored them. In fact, Congress generally ignores members who attempt to fight on behalf of whistleblowers. My situation is not an isolated case but represents a pattern of vicious retaliation.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167