Individual Members of Congress seek a negative answer by asking OIG for “the whole story” of the FAA maintenance oversight- SMS and Compliance

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Federal investigators to probe FAA oversight of Allegiant Air

OIG likely to find fault

100% of last two years of audits negative

Federal investigators are taking a close look at how the Federal Aviation Administration deals with maintenance issues at Allegiant Air and American Airlines, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General announced Wednesday.

The move comes after demands from U.S. lawmakers for a probe into Allegiant Air’s safety record, as well as the FAA’s recent approach to work with airlines in addressing maintenance and safety problems, rather than cracking down with fines or grounding their fleets.

“The traveling public deserves to know the whole story when it comes to the FAA’s oversight of airline maintenance,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, the ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee.

Calls from Nelson and other lawmakers in the last few weeks followed a 60 Minutes report looking into Allegiant’s record, which built heavily on reporting by the Tampa Bay Times in 2016. Allegiant is the dominant carrier at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

The department’s Office of Inspector General said it was narrowing an ongoing audit that started last June, when it was tasked with taking a broad look at FAA’s oversight of all airline maintenance programs.

Matthew Hampton, Assistant Inspector General for Aviation Audits, said the audit evolved to look specifically at how the agency handles allegations of maintenance issues at both Allegiant Air and American Airlines.

Hampton wrote that his team would examine “whether FAA ensures that Allegiant and American Airlines implement effective corrective actions to address the root causes of maintenance problems.”

“We welcome the OIG’s examination of the FAA’s comprehensive oversight system,” said the FAA in a written statement. “The process is dynamic and requires that the FAA, and the airlines we oversee, constantly strive for safety improvements.”

Allegiant echoed the FAA in a statement: “We welcome any analysis of our operation and safety culture, at any time.”

American Airlines said it was “shocked” to learn of the review but said it welcomes “all oversight” from federal agencies.

The audit originally began not long after Nelson pressed the FAA in response to a Times’ story that showed how FAA officials went against the recommendations of an inspector who highlighted “egregious complacent behavior” by a maintenance company that nearly caused the crash of an Allegiant jet.

The agency’s head assured Nelson that the FAA properly handled Allegiant incidents last year.

“I… can assure you that the FAA is conducting appropriate oversight to ensure Allegiant Air maintains level of safety consistent with regulations and safety requirements,” wrote Michael Huerta, FAA administrator, in February 2017.

Hampton said a key issue highlighted by lawmakers was how the FAA has implemented the “compliance philosophy” that FAA officials say does a better job of bringing airlines to the table to address safety issues.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a measure that would require the government study how effective the FAA’s new compliance policies are in practice.

“I sure hope it’s true that airlines are more likely to self-report safety incidents if they do not fear retribution,” said U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, who introduced the amendment. “But lives are at stake, and we must get the facts.”

The Senate is also considering reforms that would require the FAA to release more information about safety.

·       Revised Notification | Review of FAA’s Oversight of Air Carrier Maintenance Programs

Requested by Representatives Peter DeFazio, Rick Larsen, Nita Lowey, David Price, Mike Quigley, Katherine Clark, Pete Aguilar, Jacky Rosen, and Cheri Bustos and Senator Bill Nelson

The tone of this sampling of articles is that something BAD will be found.

Asking the OIG to provide a neutral examination of the FAA’s performance in its safety mission invokes the reverse atmosphere/attitude of what’s expressed in Dr. Brewster Higley’s 1872 oft sung song:


Oh, give me a home where the Buffalo roam

Where the Deer and the Antelope play;

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,

And the sky is not cloudy all day.

:The OIG keeps a dashboard which tracks its reviews of the FAA


100% of the OIG reviews between January 2016 and today, that was 26 audits, there never was heard a positive word about the FAA written by the OIG. So, the Congresspersons who asked the OIG to “know the whole story”, were reasonably certain that the answer of the watchdog would be negative.

Curiously, the Government Accountability Office,” an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress”, was NOT requested by the Congresspersons to assess the FAA’s SMS/Compliance/Safety Performance. Though the GAO is known as the “congressional watchdog,” and its head of GAO, the Comptroller General of the United States, is appointed to a 15-year term by President Obama in September of 2010. It has performed many, insightful analyses of the FAA. Though Gerald Dillingham, Ph. D. has left federal service, his staff is well regarded.


Here are the OIG audit headlines with their uniformly “discouraging word”:


  1. Audit Report: AV2018041 issued on 04.17.2018

FAA Needs To More Accurately Account for Airport Sponsors’ Grandfathered Payments

  1. Audit Report: ZA2018040 issued on 04.11.2018

FAA’s Management and Oversight Are Inadequate To Secure Timely and Cost-Efficient Agency-Leased Offices and Warehouses

  1. Audit Report: AV2018030 issued on 03.06.2018

FAA Needs To Strengthen Its Management Controls Over the Use and Oversight of NextGen Developmental Funding

  1. Audit Report: ZA2018029 issued on 02.28.2018

Improvements Could Be Made in FAA’s Award and Oversight of SE2020 Acquisition Program Task Orders

  1. Audit Report: AV2018020 issued on 01.31.2018

FAA Completed STARS at Large TRACONs, but Challenges in Delivering NextGen Capabilities Remain


  1. Audit Report: QC2018016 issued on 01.17.2018

Quality Control Review of the Assessment of DOT’s Protection of Privacy Information

  1. Audit Report: AV2018012 issued on 12.19.2017

FAA Oversight Is Not Keeping Pace With the Changes Occurring in the Regional Airline Industry

  1. Audit Report: FI2018011 issued on 12.11.2017

FAA Needs To Enhance the Oversight and Management of Its Overflight Fee Program

  1. Audit Report: ZA2017098 issued on 09.11.2017

DOT and FAA Lack Adequate Controls Over Their Use and Management of Other Transaction Agreements

  • Audit Report: AV2017075 issued on 09.05.2017

Greater Adherence to ADS-B Contract Terms May Generate Better Performance and Cost Savings for FAA

  1. Audit Report: AV2017063 issued on 06.26.2017

FAA Has Taken Steps To Identify Flight Deck Vulnerabilities but Needs To Enhance Its Mitigation Efforts

  • Audit Report: FI2017051 issued on 05.31.2017

FAA’s Security Controls Are Insufficient for Its En Route Automation Modernization Program

  1. Audit Report: AV2017050 issued on 05.31.2017

FAA Has Not Ensured All Check Pilots Meet Training and Observation Requirements

  1. Audit Report: AV2017049 issued on 05.30.2017

Enhancements Are Needed to FAA’s Oversight of the Suspected Unapproved Parts Program

  1. Audit Report: ZA2017046 issued on 05.08.2017

Opportunities Exist for FAA To Strengthen Its Award and Oversight of eFAST Procurements

  1. Audit Report: AV2017028 issued on 02.15.2017

While FAA Took Steps Intended To Improve Its Controller Hiring Process, the Agency Did Not Effectively Implement Its New Policies

  1. Audit Report: AV2017020 issued on 01.11.2017

Although FAA Has Taken Steps To Improve Its Operational Contingency Plans, Significant Work Remains To Mitigate the Effects of Major System Disruptions

  1. Audit Report: AV2017018 issued on 12.01.2016

FAA Lacks a Risk-Based Oversight Process for Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems

  1. Audit Report: AV2017015 issued on 11.16.2016

FAA Achieved Most of the Anticipated Cost Savings From Contracting Out Flight Service Stations, but Needs To Determine the Future Direction of the Program

  1. Audit Report: AV2017009 issued on 11.10.2016

Total Costs, Schedules, and Benefits of FAA’s NextGen Transformational Programs Remain Uncertain

  1. Audit Report: AV2016094 issued on 08.25.2016

FAA Lacks a Clear Process for Identifying and Coordinating NextGen Long-Term Research and Development

  1. Audit Report: AV2016067 issued on 05.31.2016

FAA Lacks Sufficient Oversight of the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Program

  1. Audit Report: ZA2016065 issued on 05.09.2016

FAA Lacks Adequate Controls To Accurately Track and Award Its Sole Source Contracts

  1. Audit Report: FI2016016 issued on 01.20.2016

FAA Lacks Effective Internal Controls for Oversight of Accountable Personal Property

  1. Audit Report: AV2016015 issued on 01.15.2016

FAA Reforms Have Not Achieved Expected Cost, Efficiency, and Modernization Outcomes

  1. Audit Report: AV2016013 issued on 01.07.2016

Enhanced FAA Oversight Could Reduce Hazards Associated With Increased Use of Flight Deck Automation




Anticipated, Hypothetical OIG Audit

Review of FAA’s Oversight of Air Carrier Maintenance Programs Project ID: 17A3003A000


FAA’s SMS oversight of Air Carrier Maintenance program…

Is Inadequate or Insufficient

  • Lacks a Clear Process
  • Lacks Effective Internal Controls
  • Have Not Achieved Expected
  • Or your favorite critique


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1 Comment on "Individual Members of Congress seek a negative answer by asking OIG for “the whole story” of the FAA maintenance oversight- SMS and Compliance"

  1. Dennis H Piotrowski | May 14, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Reply

    While I totally support the many means available to manufacture modifications and replacement parts, the FAA inspection workforce is ill prepared to adequately audit or evaluate the systems used to produce parts. Manufacturing is not limited to the certificate holder but spans multiple layers of supplies around the world. Furthermore, as we see more and more consolidation and or investment by outsiders, a clear question arises as to who really controls the certificates. Rairely if ever do you hear of inspectors pursuing the ownership and control aspects and thus the forces at play influencing the decision making of the front companies. Just the tip of the iceberg!

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