Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Your tax dollars at work

If you're planning to fly anywhere this summer, you might want to skip this.

The geniuses who run the Federal Aviation Administration came up with a program that was supposed to detect safety problems in the nation's air traffic control system.

But according to a report released yesterday, the program "has been used by some air-traffic controllers to escape punishment for sleeping on duty."

From Bloomberg Businessweek:
A U.S. Federal Aviation Administration program created for early detection of safety problems has been used by some air-traffic controllers to escape punishment for sleeping on duty, a report said.

Controllers have been allowed to report poor personal conduct rather than the kind of performance problems the program was intended to find, the Transportation Department inspector general’s office said today.

The intent of the reporting program is to improve aviation safety, not to provide amnesty to controllers who like to watch movies or take a nap while on the job,” said Representative John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The FAA program, known as Air Traffic Safety Action, was modeled on successful programs at airlines. It was intended to discover potential systemic safety risks before they become serious. The FAA encouraged reporting of performance lapses by preventing controllers from being punished as retribution for making reports.

The program shows promise as a tool to promote increased safety reporting, the inspector general said.

In a small number of the 41,000 reports filed through December, the FAA allowed employees to report falling asleep, viewing a personal video player while at their positions and refusing to take handoffs of responsibility for flights in a timely manner, making them immune from disciplinary action, the inspector general said.

Click here to read a related story from the Associated Press.

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