What American is Telling Employees About the Government’s Safety Investigation

News came out this past week that an FAA inspector developed a close relationship with an American Airlines manager, and ignored important safety tips.

The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General found problems at the FAA’s safety oversight at American. Their report found concerns raised by the airline’s pilots union going unaddressed for a year and a half, suggesting that “FAA’s oversight office for American Airlines lacked objectivity in its review and did not respond to concerns about unqualified pilots and unsafe conditions during maintenance verification flights.”

American Airlines Hanger at DFW Airport

The audit focused on the airline’s Tulsa flight test group who test planes after major maintenance or damage. These are flights without customers on them. What it found was that American wasn’t following its manuals. Records of pilot training were “vague and inconsistent.”

In response American put its flight test group under new management. And they’ve adopted most of the FAA’s recommended best practices.

This is a big deal — for public relations, for internal practices at the airline, and for the carrier’s employees.

Here’s what American is telling employees about the report that’s highly critical of their practices, and which suggests they may have sought to bury concerns rather than address them:

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Has the limbo bar at this awful airline finally gotten as low as it can go yet?

    Because if this isn’t the very definition of reaching a bottom in the industry’s heinous “Race to the Bottom”, then I don’t know what is.

    Stockholders and the BoD in general at American Airlines remind of when I worked at a well know brokerage firm many years ago, where it was obvious the top producing broker was coked out, and yet because he was the top producing broker, not only did this continue without anyone saying anything, very often we all had to sit through the brokers’ morning meeting while Sir Coked out was given the floor, bloodshot eyes, pasty and sweating, and constantly sniffling throughout it all…

    ..and yet, as long as he was the top broker, and despite everyone talking about it privately behind his back, top management and the branch manager looked the other way…

    Just as Wall Street analysts and the Board is doing at American with its current management.

    Broken down planes; questionable maintenance practices and possibly more…

    …and yet, as long as those juicy stock-buybacks keep being funded, nobody cares, or worse, like the guy at the firm I worked at, they know but just look the other way as long as the cash keeps rolling in…

    Yet another example about the perils and costs of having too few competitors in our airline sector now as American knows options are few, if any, for most; the demand is there; and so they’ll make money no matter how awful (or shoddy) the airline is.

    It’s all so sad that we now live in a country where enough people think cartels and oligopolies in key sectors of our economy are a good thing that they don’t care if the “costs” of too few competitors means paying ridiculous bs fees for badly degraded products – or even worse, if the “cost” from an airline that is cutting corners on repair and maintenance ultimately even results in a loss of life.

    Once upon a time, American’s tag line was “Something Special in the Air”.

    Not anymore. That’s for sure.

    In fact, were there meaningful competition now like there used to be, it’s even possible an airline as bad as American now is, would fail, just as Pan Am, TWA, or Eastern in their day – all at their worst were still way better than American now is. 🙁

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