House Lawmakers Echo Concerns to Inspector General
The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS)
said Tuesday the union is "extremely concerned over the FAA's
attempts to make radical changes to its certification policy in
order to advance its Next Generation Air Transportation System
(NextGen) and modernization efforts."
PASS represents over 11,000 employees at the Federal Aviation
Administration, including technicians who install, maintain, repair
and certify the radar, navigation and communication systems making
up the National Airspace System (NAS). For decades, FAA technicians
have routinely evaluated and tested the systems and equipment in
the NAS, regardless of their ownership, to ensure their safe
The union calls that "a successful practice that has been vital
in maintaining a safe and efficient air transportation system"...
but the FAA recently threw a change-up pitch, in order to allow
systems and services that are not owned by the FAA to be deployed
The first system to be impacted by this change is one of the
cornerstones of NextGen, the Automatic Dependent Surveillance -
Broadcast (ADS-B) system. "In essence, the FAA is attempting to
eliminate inherently governmental functions in order to justify
handing over the NAS to private contractors who are focused
primarily on maximizing profits and meeting the absolute minimum of
safety standards," said PASS President Tom Brantley.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair James
Oberstar (D-MN) and Aviation Subcommittee Chair Jerry Costello
(D-IL) echoed PASS's concerns in a letter sent this week to the
Office of the Inspector General (IG). The two chairmen express
concern over the changes to the certification policy and the
potential reduction of FAA oversight of key systems. Oberstar and
Costello are requesting that the IG assess recent changes to the
FAA's certification program and determine the implications of
allowing private contractors overall responsibility for the safe
and efficient operation of aviation systems.
"We commend Chairs Oberstar and Costello for their recognition
of and swift action on this critical issue and intend to work with
the IG to ensure a thorough investigation," said Brantley.
PASS will also testify before the House Subcommittee on Aviation
Wednesday, to express concerns over the FAA's certification policy.
In addition, PASS will caution that as the FAA moves forward into
new territory, it is ignoring several key issues that have the
potential to impact the successful implementation of NextGen,
including involvement of stakeholders in modernization efforts and
the staffing and training of the FAA technical workforce.