FAA has worked through technical and policy issues
Pilot Record Database now ready
AA AMT was fired by Alaska for cause
Should PRD expand to include all Safety-Sensitive employees?
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) learned that the Secretary of Transportation has forwarded a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” on the Pilot Records Database” to the Office of Management and Budget for formal review.
“Based on the difficult lessons we learned following the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407, the families of Flight 3407 fought for and Congress approved various measures to improve transparency and safety for the flying public. It has been over 9 years since that law was signed, and almost two years since there has been any notable action on the Pilot Record Database. (PRD)
The Pilot Records Database, required in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill of 2010, has been in a beta test phase since December 2017 with no clear indication from the FAA of when the database will be fully executed and required for all pilot hiring.
Through the Pilot Records Database, a commercial airline will be able to see information regarding employment history, training, certifications, and status of national driver registry records.
The Journal supported this aspect of the Colgan 3407 proposals:
The PRD project has consumed a long, long time. According to a Report of the Office of Inspector General, since this section of the 2010 Reauthorization Act had no deadline date as did many other statutory mandates on the FAA, its status was moved down the very long list of regulatory assignments.
The effectiveness of PRD depends on the compatibility of the air carrier employment documents with a massive, centralized FAA database. The project incurred several technical problems—just integrating the electronic records posed a major delay, but also organizing these very specific texts (type of aircraft, inflight v. training deficiencies, remediation steps taken, different disciplinary terminology/step, etc.)
Collecting sensitive information about the performance of cockpit members in a variety of situations also posed significant privacy issues (the state laws are far from consistent). The PRD was submitted to the DOT Office of the Chief Information Officer under the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) is being developed pursuant to Section 208 of the E-Government Act of 2002 because the FAA is deploying new technologies that compile information in a centralized database (the PRD) that is otherwise maintained by the FAA in separate systems and is introducing a new business process for air carriers to access information in identifiable form from the PRD. After twelve, very analytical, pages, the CIO defined a number of categories and assigned different levels of protection and remedies under this PIA.
An American Airlines mechanic charged last week with sabotaging a plane with 150 people on board was previously fired from another airline for committing multiple mechanical mistakes, according to court records.
Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was fired from Alaska Airlines, part of Alaska Air Group Inc. (NYSE: ALK), in 2008 after he helped install the wrong type of battery on an aircraft. Soon after, Alani, a native of Iraq, filed suit against Alaska claiming he was fired based on his national origin, according to court documents.
Alani’s suit was unsuccessful as in the case’s development it was found Alani committed four significant errors during his mechanic duties and was found to be clocked in for both Alaska and American Airlines Group Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL) at the same time during multiple occurrences.
Alani worked for Alaska from 1998 until his termination in 2008, according to court records. Alani’s firing from Alaska was first reported by Business Insider.
In the year and a half before his termination from Alaska, Alani was found to have made an error while installing an altimeter on a plane, didn’t consult the manual when replacing a pitot probe, and erroneously marked Heads-Up Guidance System unit as serviceable when it wasn’t, in addition to the battery incident, according to court documents.
While he was working for Alaska, he also worked for Fort Worth-based American, where he was recently charged with sabotaging an aircraft in Miami filled with 150 people. Alani allegedly superglued a Styrofoam-type material into the plane, which caused an error message as the plane was getting ready for takeoff.
Alani told investigators he was upset negotiations between the mechanic unions and American had not yielded a new contract, which he said adversely affected him financially. He said he hoped overtime would come his way to fix the issue.
An American executive called the event “,disturbing and disappointing” in a letter to employees Friday, and the unions that represent American mechanics said they condemn “in the strongest possible terms, any conduct by any individual that jeopardizes the safe operation of an aircraft.’”
This “Alaska-Airline-fired-American-Airline MECHANIC” case suggests that the PRD may not have included enough prior employment information in its database. A mechanic has the similar capability to do harm to passengers and knowing that he had been fired for committing multiple mechanical mistakes might have identified him as a risk.
A similar “invasion of privacy,” which the unions opposed, PART 120—DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING PROGRAM, another Congressionally mandated safety provision. Public policy, there, required that air carrier and repair station employees in safety-sensitive functions must be subject to drug and alcohol testing. They are:
(1) Flight crewmember duties.
(2) Flight attendant duties.
(3) Flight instruction duties.
(4) Aircraft dispatcher duties.
(5) Aircraft maintenance or preventive maintenance duties.
(6) Ground security coordinator duties.
(7) Aviation screening duties.
(8) Air traffic control duties.
(9) Operations control specialist duties.
The Alani case highlights that prior employment records should be available to aviation employers for all safety-sensitive positions work record. The PRD implementation should not be delayed, but with the technical and privacy issues resolved already, the database should be extended to include all employees in safety-sensitive functions.
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