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If allegations about FAA tactics are true, a thorough investigation is needed to clear the air

June 7, 2008
It ought to please Federal Aviation Administration officials when agency employees point out legitimate concerns about airline safety. Yet some FAA employees claim they have been intimidated or punished by their superiors for doing so.

According to published reports, law enforcement agencies are investigating at least nine cases involving such allegations. Several FAA officials already have been told to preserve certain records, including e-mail messages, “for law enforcement purposes.”

The FAA is viewed by most Americans as the first line of defense against dangerous conditions and practices involving airlines. It has the power, sometimes exercised, to ground aircraft if there is concern about safety.

In fairness to the agency, it is not uncommon for disgruntled employees — sometimes, those not doing their jobs adequately — to claim “whistleblower” status.

But the FAA is too important to the traveling public for allegations that those voicing safety concerns were punished to be dismissed.

A thorough investigation needs to be conducted. If the complaints are found to have merit, those responsible should be fired from the FAA — and perhaps, prosecuted.


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