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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."


Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Air21

The Whistleblower Law

This week we learned the essence of a safety culture, and that many airlines have a non-reporting culture. When an employee becomes an ‘irritant’ for reporting safety issues, or hurts the ego of a manager who was aware of a situation and should have solved the problem and didn’t, or identifies where the airline is working around policies with ‘carve outs’ that may be in violation of Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), and someone decides the best way to deal with that problem employee who reports these issues is to have them removed… 


But wait, you can’t fire an employee for reporting! You can, however,  falsely charge them with a mental health accusation, and send them down the rabbit hole fighting for their life. Or can you? Many managers think that they cannot be held accountable for removing a pilot from flight status if they are still on the payroll. No harm. No foul. 

The truth is, regulatory policy has been created to support a reporting culture by establishing programs such as the Air21, whistleblower law, making it illegal to not only discharge an employee, but also illegal to change the terms, conditions, or privileges of their employment for reporting safety issues. 
More than that, the report does not have to be external. If you report internally to a manager, chief pilot, or supervisor, and any aspect of your job has been changed because of that report (demotion, pulled from flight status, loss of known crewmember privileges, or unfounded mental health accusation, etc.), then you may have an Air21 claim.

The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (Air21) 49 U.S.C. §42121 is a joint FAA/OSHA program that extends beyond discharge and compensation, to terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. 
Unjust action in any capacity is protected. 
You can read more here:
But know one thing: 
You have only a minuscule 90 days to file.
Don't give up your rights! 
Without a Safety Culture and freedom to report, a level of safety will be reduced. Hazard identification and risk mitigation depend upon every employee, from the ground floor to the top of the food chain, to feel comfortable in reporting safety related issues, training issues, manual issues, procedural errors, or regulatory violations, etc. The success of safety management systems (SMS) will depend upon the structure of airlines' processes they have in place. If you do your best in the interest of safety, do not be swept under the rug and put out to pasture. Fight for your rights. Make the system safer.

Enjoy the Journey!
 Flight For Sanity coming soon....
Catch up on the series so you will be ready!

4 comments:

  1. Wow! The foregoing is valuable information that every pilot for a U.S. carrier should be aware of. I suspect that you know someone who is/was caught up in a similar mess; one simply cannot make this stuff up! I hope that they came through the process OK. I do not know, yet suspect that the ordeal is even more difficult for women; All U.S. carriers have had women pilots for decades, but that does not mean that the "Old Boys" network is happy about it. I hope that your friend came/comes through the mess OK. --And to think that it usually revolves around Safety Issues makes it that much more frightening to me. Honestly, it makes me question the wisdom of flying on U.S. based carriers when there is a choice. Thanks for posting this Karlene. - Craig

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    Replies
    1. Craig, I now have three good friends going through this. I completely understand what they are going through, too. Yes, they are women. There have been men, but from what I know of these ladies (and a common female trait)is that women are fixers. We don't fit in that good old boys club to continue when something seems wrong, we say something, because we need to make it better.

      I suspect this was mother natures way of survival of the species... to make mothers good at hazard identification and risk analysis. We could not allow the babies go kill themselves. So, we are always scanning the environment to see what they "could" get into, and what "could" happen and what might not be a good idea. I was definitely better at that than my husband.

      This is why I work the gate when we are giving kids free flights. I see those kids, and know the power of a prop, and understand what could happen if someone is not on top of it, and making a theatrical effort watching out for planes, while going to the plane is much worth the effort.

      I'm with you trying to assess what kind of wisdom makes these decisions. But, unless we educate and speak out nothing will change.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

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  2. It is scary what private companies such as Airlines do to Whistle Blowers. This is why regulation is important. I know that this effects airplane manufactures as well. As a passenger I put blind faith in an airline. The least thing I want to hear about is airlines trying to dismiss employees for pointing out safety issues. As I recall and employee that was afraid to speak up indirectly lead to ASA 261. As a passenger never forget that our lives are in your hands. Be prepared to file the needed paperwork and if you see something say something. Thanks for the article Karlene!

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  3. Thanks for bringing this on.
    It is so bad that employees ar,e afraid of bringing up issues.
    Specially in Aviation it is so important that safety issues are discussed openly.
    Employees Have to speak up for themselves and their co-workers. It is their obligation to make the process better.
    And it is wrong that they get punished for that.

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