Special Counsel Accuses FAA Of Wrongdoing

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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has written President Barack Obama and Congress alleging that there's a "substantial likelihood that FAA officials and employees engaged in violation of law, rule or regulation, gross mismanagement and an abuse of authority, all of which contributed to a substantial and specific danger to public safety." The Special Counsel also accuses the Department of Transportation of foot-dragging in its investigation of the allegations, which originated with a whistleblower complaint from FAA inspector Rand Foster on July 8, 2008. Forester contends that the FAA decided, for political reasons, against enforcing certification standards on more than 300 emergency medical services helicopters that had non-compliant night vision systems installed on them. The Office of Special Counsel initially gave DOT and the FAA 60 days to answer the allegations and has granted several extensions. On July 20 the Special Counsel decided enough was enough and notified the government.

In his complaint, Foster says the FAA initially decided to declare the affected helicopters unairworthy via a Notice of National Policy. In his complaint, Foster alleged FAA brass decided against issuing the notice because of negative publicity that arose over alleged safety concerns at Southwest and American Airlines. "The information disclosed by Mr. Foster reveals a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing and raises concerns regarding the airworthiness of hundreds of emergency medical services helicopters."

Related Content:
Special Counsel's letter to the President (PDF)