Being an FAA whistleblower is an important part of keeping people safe in the airline industry. The FAA is responsible for overseeing all of the companies involved in the airline industry, and with billions of dollars every year flowing through those companies, it is important to safeguard against the potential fraud and abuse that could endanger the flying public.
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is actually the aviation wing of the Department of Transportation. It was created by the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 and adopted as part of the DOT in 1966.
FAA Retaliation and Whistleblowers
Unfortunately, there are many instances where not only airline employees, but also employees of the FAA itself have experienced harassment and denigration as a result of their testimonies and attempts to speak out about the potential safety issues they see in their industry.
The FAA does not officially endorse such harassment, of course, and even has a page on their website detailing their commitment to protecting FAA whistleblowers in the aviation community. However, groups such as the FAA Whistleblowers Alliance contend that while the laws and regulations are intended to keep people safe, the pressures within the industry often lead to unsafe conditions and a habit of suppressing whistleblowers and their testimony. For these reasons, the organization has been one of the driving forces lobbying congress for the passage of stronger whistleblower protection, such as the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.
Filing Whistleblower Complaint
Should you want to file a complaint regarding aircraft carriers, their contractors or subcontractors, the FAA website lists a hotline number that may be used to make a complaint. It is important to know that the hotline is not staffed 24/7 but a voicemail is available if you would prefer to leave a message for a hotline staff member.
An FAA Whistleblower complaint form, called an AIR21 can be filled out and submitted online directly to the FAA here. You may also mail your complaint to the FAA at the address located on their website.
You may submit an anonymous whistleblower complaints by calling the hotline at 1-800-255-1111 and choosing option 3. It is important to note however, that if you seek protection from retaliation FAA’s Whistleblower Protection Program, you may not remain anonymous.
One final way to file a complaint is by doing so with OSHA. The same AIR21 form is used as when reporting directly to the FAA. You may submit the form at the OSHA website. You may also use OSHA Whistleblower Hotline. Be sure if contacting a regional office that you are speaking with someone on the federal rather than the state level. You must also realize that if the complaint involves employment discrimination, OSHA is required to reveal your identity to your employer. All of these factors should be weighed carefully before filing a report.
As with other types of whistleblowers, FAA whistleblowers come forward because of the safety risks and abuses that they are witness to. Many times they realize that they may be subjected to intimidation, discrimination and even a loss of employment for doing so. However, the next time that you take an airline flight, and things go safely and without incident, thank the scores of aviation employees that have blown the whistle to make your trip as secure as possible. This is why we should appreciate anyone who become FAA whistleblower.