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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, 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. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Politics and Aviation

Tuesday the Senate voted to close the debate on the nomination of Steve Dickson as the FAA administrator. Wednesday they vote. Unfortunately this has become a party decision where 52 Republicans have placed a political party alliance before safety. This reality is something that is very difficult to understand, and extremely disappointing for the future of aviation safety. I can only hope that all aviators and passengers alike will take this into consideration the next time they vote. 

I can state with absolute certainty that the person who has been named the whistleblower, was anything but a whistleblower. She simply gave Steve Dickson a 45 page internal safety report identifying federal aviation violations, training concerns, and guidance on the safety culture that is necessary to support SMS. The very program in which he was the divisional accountable executive. 

Steve Dickson | AP Photo
Steve Dickson

This pilot was guilty of one thing--being naive to think that Steve Dickson didn't know what was happening under his reign. And when she brought this information forward thinking she was helping, he authorized to have her silenced. This decision was under his authority. She filed an Air 21 because she did not know if she would ever fly again due to his actions. 

However, documents during discovery identified that Dickson and his second in command had actually planned to take the mental health action against the pilot "four months" before the alleged behavior that Dickson states created a "sound decision", simply because she requested a meeting. Then he followed through. Contrary to Dickson's statements, there were no "company officials" who identified any irregular behavior. There was simply "one person", the manager of pass travel complaint department, who was misrepresented as an HR Safety investigator. Her statements under oath between deposition and trial, and those in her report have so many holes they don't hold water. 

Steve Dickson falsely stated there was a "credible report." However, he never request an investigation of the allegation, as recommended by the aviation rule making committee for mental health, because he knew this was a pre-meditated plan to remove the pilot. 

David B. Altman

Under Steve Dickson's rule, Dr. David B. Altman was paid approximately $74,000 to give this pilot a diagnosis that would permanently removed her from flying. Dr. Altman is currently under investigation with the Illinois Medical Board and awaiting the prosecuting attorney to review his case. An investigator recently reported: 

"The case has moved forward and has been reviewed by a deputy medical coordinator and the medical disciplinary board. The case was referred to legal and currently lies with the legal dept. and is being reviewed. Although this is a lengthy process it serves as good news to a complainant when a case makes it this far. Statistically speaking, a large percentage of cases do not make it this far, as they are often closed due to not having a merits of any violation." 

 Senator Wicker

Contrary to Senator Wicker's statements, there was not a thorough investigation as to whether Steve Dickson was involved, because Wicker never spoke to the pilot who was retaliated against.  He did not ask the person who filed the claim if Dickson was involved and to what level. This would be similar to an investigation to determine if a woman was raped by a known person, and not asking her who did it. 

Senator Wicker has documents that identify Dickson's involvement at a level far beyond his simply being the person who received the report, and the recipient of an email stating they would give the pilot a mental health evaluation after the meeting went through. Senator Wicker hung his hat on one fact---that Steve Dickson was not named in the Air 21 suit. But he failed to disclose that "nobody" is allowed to be named in an Air 21 case.  Steve Dickson was the first person deposed because he was the person in charge, and the person fully responsible for the ensuing adverse action. 

The irony of all this is that in the wake of the MAX and the FAA's lack of credibility regarding oversight and followthrough, is Senator Wicker's defense  that Steve Dickson didn't have any knowledge. He was the head of the Flight Operations. How could he possibly not know what was happening in his department? If he abdicated his responsibility on such a monumental level, then what makes these Senators think he wouldn't do the same in the FAA? 

Today, truth is scarier than fiction. This is a story that does not have a happy ending. 

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene 


  1. This just makes me sad. I thought that we would be farther along in 2019 in terms of women's rights and valuing diversity. I don't understand why this is a partisan issue, and I am sad that they are voting party lines instead of using their brains. Keep the acting head Dan Elwell in. until we find a good leader.

    1. Kathy, I could not agree more! The manner in which this was done was an archaic process of "she's a woman, must be crazy". Okay..the doctor claiming that a woman was manic because she attended night school and had kids was a little out there too... "NO WOMAN COULD DO THAT!" But I also thought that Aviation Safety was first and foremost the top of the priority list. Very sad. Especially going into NextGen where experts have said we will have an unprecedented set of accidents between 2020 and 2025. Guess 2018/2019 was just the writing on the wall.

  2. s shot down by a US Navy Missile. I have pictures of the Missile, The Airspace/Altitude Reservation from the Controlling Agency for July 17, 1996. I will not belabor the issues except to say that the " Good Die Young " at the hands of these devious Social Climber" individuals that "Devour Their Young"


  4. Karlene,

    I called my company ALPA PAC rep and asked what the official stance on Dickenson was. He sent me their endorsement letter which was lukewarm at best and said basically they were sitting this out because they assumed that he would be nominated and their didn't want to put themselves in the opposition side. (all my words and my understanding of the conversation). He asked me if I was a PAC member and I said no because of garbage like this. I can't stand politics because they do nothing for the wrong reasons and aren't man enough to say facts.

    We also talked about unmanned aircraft and the Boeing 797 which is currently being designed with the capability to have zero pilots on board. Blah, blah, blah...there is no doubt in my mind that ALPA is on the wrong side of that issue too.

    This is a dying career thanks to this current generation of ALPA leaders.

  5. Rob, Thank you so much for your efforts. We tried. Yes, ALPA made a stance based on fear. Deception runs deep, and it's hard for anyone in the industry to know the level of Dickson's behavior. But at the end of the day, that too shall come to light.

    Unfortunately, If we all lived to his standards, then we would not need FARs. No rules. No regs. They don't apply to us. Hard to grasp. But isn't that what ALPA is for... Safety? Unity? Standards?

    Also, the day they remove the pilot, is the day the next level of terrorism will take place. I'm going to do my best to delay that reality. Do you think that could be a reason for the events? Should be interesting times.

    I am utterly shocked that ALPA is on the side of automated aircraft and remove the pilot. More is in the works... stand by! Thank you so much for your comment!!


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