Special Counsel Wants 2,000 Mechanics Retested

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The Office of Special Counsel, which handles issues raised by federal government whistle-blowers, says it's concerned that 1,228 A&P mechanics who may not have been properly certified have not yet been re-examined. Two whistle-blowers in the Orlando FSDO complained that a re-examination program for mechanics who had earned their papers through St. George Aviation was abruptly stopped after just 130 of about 2,000 graduates had been retested. The owner and an employee of St. George were convicted of issuing fraudulent A&P certificates. In some cases, students were not even tested. But after retesting 130 graduates, the FAA apparently thought it saw a trend developing. According to the OSC report, the FSDO was advised that because 79 percent of those retested passed the exam and since two years had elapsed since St. George's closure that "there was no conclusive measurable impact on aviation safety and the flying public." Gabriel Bruno, the FSDO manager, and Dorvin Hagen, his Supervisory Safety Inspector, disagreed and filed the whistle-blower complaint. Complicating the case is the fact that some of the mechanics have won a court injunction against being retested. The OSC acknowledges the injunction but wants the FAA to stay on top of the litigation with an eye to getting the remaining tests done. "Nothing could be more central to the nation's overall security and the well-being of our citizenry than aviation safety, of which the mechanics and inspectors form a critical link," said Special Counsel Scott Bloch. "Thanks to the efforts of the whistle-blowers, a problem was identified and is being corrected."