• Corrupt FAA Administrator Nominee Advanced For Senate Vote

    From Larry Dighera@21:1/5 to All on Sat Jul 13 10:57:27 2019
    FAA Administrator Nominee Dixon lied to the Senate committee charged
    with confirming him and, had a whistleblower pilot reporting safety
    issues at Delta fraudulently declared unfit for duty. Later the FAA
    validated the reported safety issues.


    Senate Republicans say yes.

    --------------------------- https://www.avweb.com/flight-safety/faa-regs/faa-administrator-nominee-advanced-for-senate-vote/

    FAA Administrator Nominee Advanced For Senate Vote
    Kate O'Connor July 11, 20192

    Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and
    Transportation voted 14-12 along party lines in favor of former Delta
    Air Lines executive Stephen Dickson becoming the next administrator of
    the FAA on Wednesday. Dickson was nominated for the position last
    March. As previously reported by AVweb <https://www.avweb.com/aviation-news/headwinds-for-dickson-as-next-faa-admin/>, the nomination process was slowed when allegations that retaliatory
    actions may have been taken against a pilot who raised safety concerns
    while Dickson was in a leadership position at Delta were discovered.
    The allegations are currently the subject of an ongoing lawsuit, which
    Dickson did not disclose to the Senate committee.

    “After Mr. Dickson’s hearing, new information came to the committee’s
    attention that involved employees reporting possible safety violations
    at Mr. Dickson’s former employer while he was serving as a senior vice president,” committee chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said in a
    statement <https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings>.
    “The committee has since conducted an extensive review, including
    multiple follow-up conversations and meetings with Mr. Dickson. We
    have studied hundreds of pages of legal documents. It is clear that
    Mr. Dickson was not a named party in any of these matters and was not personally alleged to have retaliated against any of his fellow
    employees who raised safety concerns.”

    To be confirmed as the next head of the FAA, Dickson will still need
    to receive a majority vote from the full Senate. That vote has not yet
    been scheduled.


    Headwinds For Dickson As Next FAA Admin
    Marc Cook July 2, 20195

    It’s been more than four months since former Delta Air Lines executive
    Steve Dickson was nominated to take over for Dan Elwell at the FAA.
    But The New York Times is reporting <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/02/business/stephen-dickson-faa.html>
    that Senate Democrats on the Commerce Committee are “looking into
    claims that Mr. Dickson was involved in retaliating against a pilot
    who raised safety concerns, with some senators now suggesting he may
    be unfit for the [FAA] job.”

    The story surfaced in early June via CNN <https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/03/politics/faa-nominee-delta-alleged-whistleblower/index.html>,
    and suggests that Dickson may have sent a Delta pilot who had reported
    safety concerns “to a psychiatrist,” which had the effect of removing
    her from flight duties. Dickson defended the evaluation as a “sound
    course of action.”

    Regardless of the politics, the delay in confirming a new FAA
    Administrator comes at an arguably difficult time for the agency. It
    is under severe scrutiny after allegations that the Boeing 737 MAX’s
    MCAS software was not vetted properly and that the traditional system
    of checks and balances broke down.

    Previously, AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker said that “Steve Dickson
    is a solid choice to lead the FAA. His in-depth knowledge of our
    aviation system, keen awareness of general aviation as well as the
    challenges before us make him the right choice to lead the agency. I
    am hopeful the Senate will move to confirm Mr. Dickson as quickly as
    possible.” Elwell has been the FAA’s Acting Administrator since
    January 2018. ---------------------------------------------------------------------


    Trump Pick to Lead F.A.A. Faces Scrutiny From Senate Democrats
    Democrats are looking into claims that Stephen Dickson, President
    Trump’s nominee to lead the F.A.A., was involved in retaliating
    against a pilot who raised safety concerns at Delta.
    Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call, via Getty Images

    Image Democrats are looking into claims that Stephen Dickson,
    President Trump’s nominee to lead the F.A.A., was involved in
    retaliating against a pilot who raised safety concerns at Delta.
    Democrats are looking into claims that Stephen Dickson, President
    Trump’s nominee to lead the F.A.A., was involved in retaliating
    against a pilot who raised safety concerns at Delta. Credit Bill
    Clark/CQ Roll Call, via Getty Images

    By David Gelles
    July 2, 2019

    President Trump’s choice to lead the Federal Aviation Administration
    is facing resistance from Senate Democrats, adding more uncertainty to
    an agency already under pressure after the deadly crashes of two
    Boeing jets.

    Stephen Dickson, whom Mr. Trump tapped to lead the F.A.A. in March,
    retired from Delta Air Lines last fall after 27 years at the company.
    A former pilot who rose to become senior vice president for flight
    operations, Mr. Dickson was initially seen as a safe pick to head the
    F.A.A., which has been without a permanent administrator for over a

    But in recent weeks, Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee, which
    has the power to advance Mr. Dickson’s nomination, have seized on Mr.
    Dickson’s involvement in a whistle-blower case at Delta. The Democrats
    are looking into claims that Mr. Dickson was involved in retaliating
    against a pilot who raised safety concerns, with some senators now
    suggesting he may be unfit for the F.A.A. job.

    Republicans on the committee are still publicly supporting Mr.
    Dickson, and could vote to advance his nomination to the full Senate
    as early as next week. But the party-line split, a rarity for this
    agency, raises the prospect that the F.A.A. could become yet another
    partisan battleground.

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    The tensions over Mr. Dickson’s nomination are an unwelcome
    distraction for the F.A.A. The agency is under fire for its role in
    certifying the Boeing 737 Max and then being too slow to ground it
    after a second crash involving the jet in March. It is now devoting
    significant resources to getting the Max, which has been grounded
    since March, flying again. It is also working to enact many new
    regulations included in the F.A.A. Reauthorization Bill passed last

    [Boeing’s Dreamliner plant is said to face a federal inquiry.]

    Senate Democrats are concerned about Mr. Dickson’s role in a case
    involving the Delta pilot Karlene Petitt, which was first reported by
    CNN <https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/03/politics/faa-nominee-delta-alleged-whistleblower/index.html>.
    In 2016, Ms. Petitt presented Mr. Dickson and other executives with a
    report that she said documented unsafe conditions, including
    inadequate training and overworked pilots. Instead of taking her
    concerns seriously, Ms. Petitt said that the company retaliated
    against her.

    In a complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,
    Ms. Petitt alleged that soon after she raised her safety concerns, she
    was interviewed by a Delta investigator. Based on feedback from that investigator, Delta decided to have Ms. Petitt examined by a
    psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed a bipolar disorder, leading
    her to be banned from flying for more than a year.

    Two subsequent evaluations by other psychiatrists reversed that
    diagnosis, and Ms. Petitt was cleared to fly again. The F.A.A.
    conducted an investigation of Ms. Petitt’s safety complaints and
    substantiated some violations by Delta. Ms. Petitt is seeking damages
    in excess of $1 million, and her claim is pending before an
    administrative law judge at the Labor Department.

    Though Mr. Dickson was involved in Ms. Petitt’s case and sat for an
    extended deposition, he did not mention the case in responses to a questionnaire <https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/4ce43875-5e5f-4049-8d28-144aa803a249/8B4E708A966CB49348E7C199B9FD6706.qfr-responses-to-minority-questions.pdf>
    he submitted as part of his application to be the F.A.A.
    administrator. The questionnaire asked if he or any company he was
    involved with was a named party in a lawsuit. Mr. Dickson noted that
    Delta was involved in many legal proceedings, but did not mention the
    Petitt case.

    “Given the current climate of safety oversight at the Federal Aviation Administration, I find this omission deeply concerning and potentially disqualifying,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said in
    written questions <https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/4ce43875-5e5f-4049-8d28-144aa803a249/8B4E708A966CB49348E7C199B9FD6706.qfr-responses-to-minority-questions.pdf>
    to Mr. Dickson that were made public last week.

    Senator Maria Cantwell, the commerce committee’s ranking Democratic
    member, said Mr. Dickson’s “failure to disclose this matter to the
    committee is of major concern,” adding that “the facts related to the whistle-blower claim are troublesome and suggest at least the
    possibility that the claim of retaliation has merit.”

    Mr. Dickson defended himself in written responses to the committee
    released last week.

    “I have not previously and will never tolerate retaliation of any kind
    to any employee who raises safety concerns,” he responded. “I fully
    understand the importance of safety being the top priority at the

    Mr. Dickson stood by his previous assessment that referring Ms. Petitt
    to a psychiatric referral was a “sound course of action.”

    “The referral was made based on a credible report about statements the
    pilot made to company officials and behavior she exhibited, which
    raised legitimate questions about her fitness to fly,” he said.

    The F.A.A. has faced criticism for being slow to ground the Boeing 737
    Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

    Image The F.A.A. has faced criticism for being slow to ground the
    Boeing 737 Max.
    The F.A.A. has faced criticism for being slow to ground the Boeing 737
    Max. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

    He added that he did not mention the case as part of his application
    because he was not a named party in the complaint.

    None of the Republicans on the committee mentioned Ms. Petitt’s case
    in the written questions to Mr. Dickson released last week. The White
    House defended him, as well.

    “President Trump chose Steve Dickson to head the F.A.A. because of his
    almost three decades of experience at Delta where he oversaw global
    flight operations,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman. “The
    White House has complete confidence in his nomination and expects him
    to be confirmed.”

    Delta, the F.A.A. and members of the commerce committee declined to
    comment on the case or Mr. Dickson’s nomination. Mr. Dickson did not
    reply to requests for comment.

    The F.A.A. has been without a permanent leader since January 2018,
    when Michael Huerta stepped down at the end of his five-year term.
    Daniel Elwell, a former American Airlines pilot who had served as
    deputy administrator, has been acting administrator since then.

    Though Mr. Trump previously floated the idea of naming his personal
    pilot, John Dunkin, to the role <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/14/us/politics/trump-boeing-aviation.html?module=inline>,
    Mr. Dickson was ultimately picked.

    The split on the commerce committee is now injecting politics into an
    agency that has typically escaped partisan disputes.

    “It is important that the F.A.A. be a nonpartisan organization,” said
    Mr. Huerta, the former F.A.A. administrator. “Whether you are a
    Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, everyone wants
    aviation safety.”

    Despite the growing concern among Democrats, the commerce committee
    chairman, Roger Wicker, could bring Mr. Dickson’s nomination to a vote
    as early as next week. If the vote were held along party lines, with Republicans supporting Mr. Dickson, his nomination would advance to
    the full Senate.

    The F.A.A. is also under pressure from the House transportation
    committee, which is investigating the Max crashes. Last month,
    Democrats from the committee sent Mr. Elwell and the transportation
    secretary, Elaine Chao, a letter expressing frustration with the

    “We are concerned about the slow pace of the F.A.A.’s response,” they
    wrote. “To say we are disappointed and a bit bewildered at the ongoing
    delays to appropriately respond to our records requests would be an understatement.”

    The transportation committee, which recently held a hearing on the
    Max, has requested documents from Boeing as well. Though no Boeing
    executives have been called to testify yet, the committee is expected
    to hold more hearings in the coming months, and Boeing executives may

    The House inquiry is just one of many investigations set in motion by
    the two 737 Max crashes. The Justice Department has opened a criminal
    inquiry into Boeing’s development of the Max, and recently expanded
    its investigation to include production of the 787 Dreamliner in
    Charleston, S.C.

    The Transportation Department’s inspector general is also looking into
    how the Max was certified. As Boeing developed the Max, some at the
    F.A.A. were briefed on MCAS, a new anti-stall system that contributed
    to the two accidents. But critical officials were left in the dark
    about the final design of the system. While the F.A.A. office in
    charge of aircraft certification was aware that the system was made
    more powerful late in the design process, the officials in charge of determining pilot training were not.

    The F.A.A. also acceded to a request from a Boeing employee to remove
    mention of the system from the pilot’s flight manual for the Max.
    Before the first crash, most pilots were not aware the new system

    A version of this article appears in print on July 1, 2019, Section B,
    Page 3 of the New York edition with the headline: Senate Democrats
    Question Trump’s Pick to Lead F.A.A.. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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    FAA nominee OK'd retaliation against pilot whistleblower, lawsuit says
    Curt DevineDrew Griffin-Profile-Image
    By Curt Devine and Drew Griffin, CNN

    Updated 10:06 PM ET, Mon June 3, 2019
    New questions surrounding Trump's FAA nominee

    FullscreenNow Playing New questions...

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    (CNN)A Senate committee is investigating President Donald Trump's
    nominee to lead the Federal Aviation Administration, Stephen Dickson,
    for his involvement in a case in which a Delta Air Lines pilot alleged
    the company retaliated against her -- including sending her to a
    psychiatrist -- after she shared safety concerns with him.

    The case, which has not been previously reported, involves Dickson's
    time as a senior vice president at Delta Air Lines and a Delta pilot
    who argues the company retaliated against her after she met with him
    in 2016.

    Dickson did not disclose the case on his nomination questionnaire to
    the Senate Commerce Committee.

    As Delta's then-head of flight operations, Dickson approved sending
    the pilot, Karlene Petitt, to a psychiatrist weeks after she gave him
    and another flight operations manager a report that listed what she
    described as FAA violations by Delta, according to documents.
    The psychiatrist diagnosed Petitt with bipolar disorder and the
    company grounded her for more than a year. Two subsequent examinations
    found that she does not have that disorder, and she is currently
    flying for Delta.

    Petitt is suing Delta in a Department of Labor administrative case
    that remains pending.

    In a deposition, Dickson said he had ultimate responsibility over the
    decision to refer Petitt for a mental evaluation and called it a
    "sound course of action." Dickson retired from Delta last year.
    Petitt's attorney, Lee Seham, told that CNN Dickson allowed what
    amounted to retaliation against his client.

    "This was all a terrible mistake, but it was a terrible mistake that
    went on for a year and a half because of the lack of diligence that
    Captain Dickson accepted," Seham said.

    Commerce committee staffers are currently examining the case, which
    they learned of after Dickson's confirmation hearing on May 15,
    according to two committee aides.

    RELATED: FAA officials in hot seat as world awaits Boeing 737 Max fix
    "Since holding the nomination hearing with Mr. Dickson, new
    information has come to the committee's attention that merits further examination. The committee has been reviewing this information and I
    have asked the Department of Transportation and the White House to do
    the same," said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, the committee's

    A Democratic committee aide described the case as concerning,
    particularly because it was omitted from Dickson's questionnaire.
    CNN made repeated attempts to contact Dickson but could not reach him
    for comment. The White House has not responded to request for

    On his Senate questionnaire, Dickson stated, "During my Delta
    employment, from time to time and in the ordinary course of business,
    Delta was involved in various judicial, administrative or regulatory proceedings relating to its business, although I was not a named party
    in any such actions."

    On another section that asked for "additional information, favorable
    or unfavorable, which you feel should be disclosed in connection with
    your nomination," Dickson responded: "None."

    Delta denies that the company retaliated against Petitt by referring
    her to a medical examination after she raised concerns.

    "Our utmost responsibility is to provide safe and secure travel for
    our customers and our employees. The very core of our safety program
    is employee reporting. Every single Delta employee is encouraged and
    empowered to report potential concerns and we do not tolerate
    retaliation against employees who raise concerns," Delta spokesperson
    Catherine Simmons said.

    Dickson, who is poised to lead the FAA in the midst of controversy
    surrounding the agency's prior certification of the Boeing 737 Max,
    has decades of aviation experience as a former Air Force and Delta
    pilot who became a senior Delta manager responsible for flight safety
    and pilot training until his retirement last year.

    Initial complaint and bipolar-disorder diagnosis

    Petitt's ordeal began more than three years ago when she compiled a
    list of concerns about Delta. In addition to being a pilot for
    decades, Petitt has a PhD in aviation.
    Petitt had witnessed a variety of events and practices involving Delta employees, training and scheduling practices that she believed
    violated FAA standards.

    She compiled her concerns into a report that described "numerous areas
    where safety culture and ... compliance conflict with the FAA's (2013)
    outlined requirements and the airline's core values," which she
    presented to Dickson and Delta's then-vice president of flying
    operations, Jim Graham, in January 2016.

    In a deposition, Petitt said that Dickson said during that meeting,
    "Some people like to sit in the back of the room and throw spit wads,"
    which she interpreted as dismissive of her claims. Dickson said in a
    deposition he did not remember making that statement.

    A Delta employee-relations manager then conducted an interview with
    Petitt in March 2016 about some of her claims, during which Petitt
    became frustrated, and her eyes filled with tears, according to her
    attorney. That manager reported that Petitt believed "something bad
    eventually will happen either to her or to a Delta flight," according
    to documents.

    Graham held a teleconference with that manager and others and decided
    to ground Petitt and mandate that she receive a psychiatric
    evaluation, with Dickson's approval, according to court documents and
    Petitt's attorney.

    The mental health evaluation by a Delta-hired psychiatrist resulted in
    Petitt's bipolar-disorder diagnosis, which rendered her unable to fly.
    During this time, the FAA sent Petitt a letter in September 2016 that
    notified her an investigation had substantiated one of her safety
    concerns. The FAA determined Delta had failed to count employee
    "deadheading," where the airline provides an employee with a flight to
    another location, as flight time for computing daily and weekly flight
    limits, which Petitt said could affect pilot fatigue. The FAA did not substantiate three of her other allegations.

    While Petitt remained grounded, a panel of doctors from the Mayo
    Clinic rejected Delta's psychiatric evaluation. Due to the
    disagreement, Delta's psychiatrist and the Mayo Clinic doctors
    selected a neutral medical examiner who in turn determined Petitt was
    medically fit. She began flying for Delta again in 2017.
    Petitt's attorney Seham said he has no doubt that the decision to
    ground Petitt, overseen by Dickson, was linked to the safety report
    she shared, which he said amounts to retaliation by Delta and sends a
    troubling message to the company's pilots.

    "What's the impact of safety in terms of the message to 12,000 pilots
    that after you submit a safety report you're off to a psychiatrist?"
    Seham said. "Captain Dickson did nothing in terms of stopping what

    Seham added that he questions the thoroughness with which Dickson and
    Delta as a whole investigated Petitt's safety concerns.

    During a deposition, Dickson said he took Petitt's safety allegations
    "very seriously" and that he appointed his colleague Graham to
    follow-up and oversee a review of her claims.

    Dickson also said that his meeting with Petitt served as a catalyst
    for a company safety audit, though when asked during that deposition
    about specific determinations reached on some of Petitt's claims,
    Dickson said he did not remember or was not aware.

    Delta said a third-party auditor reviewed the company's safety
    processes in 2016 and provided positive feedback, and that the issue
    raised by Petitt of not properly counting deadhead time toward flight
    limits had been addressed and corrected by the time the FAA
    investigated it.

    A senior White House adviser tells CNN that Dickson has been
    cooperating with the committee.

    "President Trump chose Steve Dickson to head the FAA because of his
    almost three decades of experience at Delta where he oversaw global
    flight operations," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a
    statement. "The White House has complete confidence in his nomination
    and expects him to be confirmed." ---------------------------------------------------

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