Ethics 3_questions 1 and 5 - Safety Inspectors Blow the...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: Safety Inspectors Blow the Whlstle on Mechanical Problems with Airplanes After mechanics at Northwest Airlines went ottt on strike on August 213, EDGE. Federal Aviation Administration safety inspector Mark Lund began to see troubling signs. Clue replacement mechanic didn’t know how to test an engine. Another couldn’t close a cabin door. Many did not seem properly trained. In Lundis view. their inexperience resulted in dangerous mistakes. One DC-ltl, for example, had a broken lavatory duct that allowed human waste to spill onto vital navigation equip— ment. The leak developed during a flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis Northwest planned to let the plane continue on to Honolulu with the perilous and putrid problern unlined—until one of Lundls fellow safety inspectors in Minneapolis intervened. Management in Action Just two days after the strike began, Luncl fired off a “safety recommendation for accident preye11~ tion” letter to his supervisors and to FAA headquar- ters in Washington. It was the loudest alarm he had the authority to ring. Claiming that “a situation ere ists that jeopardizes life," Lund proposed cutting back on Northwest‘s flight schedule until mechanics and inspectors could do their job “without error." But instead of taking harsh action against the air- line, the agency punished him. On August 29. Land's supervisors confiscated the badge that gave him ac— cess to Northwest’s facilities and gate him a desk job. That happened to he the same day the airline sent a letter to the FAA complaining about Lund’s allegedly disruptiyc and unprofessional conduct. The FAA says it treated Lund fairly. The Manager‘s Cl'ianglng Work Ernrlrnnrrlent E Ethlcal Respormlhllltles alt CHAPTER 3 99‘ W-. As the airline escalated its war against Land, he counterattacked. Going over the heads of multiple layers of FAA managers, Lund faxed his safety rec- ommendation to Mark Dayton, then the Demo- cratic senator for Northwest’s home state of Minnesota. Dayton, in tum, brought the matter to the attention of the Inspector General for the Trans- portation Department, which oversees the FAA. In the two years after Lund blew the whistle on the unaddressed problems he perceived at North- west, he says, the FAA made his life uncomfortable. Now Lund is returning the favor. On September 2?, 200?, the Inspector General released a report on the episode that lambasted the FAA for its treatment of Lund, who held on to his job despite what he claims was an effort to fire hint. At the request of the In- spector General, the agency is now in the process of modifying the procedures it uses to review safety allegations raised by inspectors The FAA is bracing for more scrutiny on this issue. In March [2003], the House aviation subcommittee plans to hold a hear- ing on an alleged incident of retaliation involving an inspector for Southwest Airlines. The “FAA’s handling of [Lands] safety con- oerns appeared to focus on discounting the validity of the complaints,“ the Inspector General’s office wrote in its report. “A potential negative conse- quence of FAA’s handling of this safety recommen- dation is that the other inspectors may be discouraged from bringing safety issues to FAA’s attention.“ Lund‘s story shines a spotlight on a conflict that most passengers have no idea exists: the one be- tween safety inspectors and airlines. The inspectors are the onnthe-ground cops who ensure that engines fire up properly, that the wing flaps function, and that all of the other complex machinery in an air- craft is in good working order. They have broad dis- cretion to halt and delay flights—power that often ranklcs the thinly stretched. financially strapped carriers When an inspector launches a formal in— vestigation into an apparent safety violation at a passenger airline, something that happened more than Bill] times [in sent]. it often triggers costly re— pairs. And when the bill eacoeds $50,0fll}, the FAA must issue a press release alerting the world to the problem. The airlines sometimes fight back. Executives meet constantly with local FAA officials on a wide variety of issues and occasionally lodge informal complaints against tough inspectors. From time to time, the carriers bring their concerns directly to the agency’s top official: the FAA administrator. "If the airline feels uncomfortable. management will call the FAA administrator.“ says Linda Goodrich, a former inspector who is now vice—president of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists {PASS} union. which represents inspectors and played no role in Lund's dispute with the agency. “The FAA administrator will immediately dEmand to know what we are doing to them. You can imag'nc an in- spector trying to do his work when his local man— agement is so fearful of the airline". . . Several safety inspectors interviewed by Ensi- ncrs-chlt said the pressure not to impose big eit— penses on the carriers increased after the September 1] terrorist attacks, which threw the airline industry into an economic tailspin. They said that this led to a decrease in the reporting of safety violations. 1n the six—year period following September 11, mm. the number of sci-called enforcement investigation reports [EIRsl filed for the six biggest airlines fell by 62%, to 1.480, compared with the prior six-year period, according to FAA data reviewed by Bast- ness Week. The number of domestic passengers grew by about 42% during this same period. . . . There's little doubt that Lund rubs some people the wrong way. He knows the agency's thick rule book almost by heart, and he interprets it strictly. “Mark stands up and speaks the truth," says fellow inspector Mike Gonzales, who works in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Some people. including even his col- leagues, don‘t like him for that.” Another colleague called him “dogmatic” and “hard to like." Before joining the FAA in IQ?!) Lund worked as an aircraft electrician for the LLB. Navy and as maintenance di- rector for a small airline in Minneapolis. He makes no apologies for his sometimes abrasive personality. “I'm here to keep the public safe," says Lund, who is an official in the local PASS union. If a concern arises. “I‘ll stop the airplane. and I’ll watch every step". . . Lund claims that most of the airline’s com- plaints arose when he delayed planes In [993 Land prevented five DC-lfls from taking off because Northwest had not repaired passenger—seat defects that would cause them to come apart in a crash. “The paperwork had been signed off, but we found that they had not been repaired properly,” Lund told Business Week. He claims that Northwest pres- sured his bosses, who in turn told him to return to the office and assured him that the airline would fix the problem. “I’m sure they took care of it." he said. "But we have no verification.“ While inspecting a Northwest T4? in 1994, Lund discovered that when its oxygen masks dropped in an emergency they were dangling two feet above the head of a typical passenger. That made the masks useless He stopped the airplane until the problem was fused. ”The carrier went ballistic," said a Northwest Airlines IDO near: a: 'I'hlEmlrmtl'nlntchInIglrllnt FAA inspector with direct knowledge of the matter. Northwest declined to comment on these inci— dents. . . . Lune was also given orders he found unpalat- able. according to co—worlters. Once. a manager forced hint to revise a report to edit out a reference to a minor safety problem. “When he refused, they issued a letter of wanting and then a letter of repri— mand." says one inspector with direct knowledge of the matter. That put Land on the edge of dismissal. “They didn’t want any more problems with the car— rier and they didn’t want any problems with Mark.“ this inspector says The FAA did not comment on accusations that it attempted to dismiss Lund. vindication from the lG‘s [Inspector General‘s] office took nearly two years As the H3 recomu mended. the FAA is creating a new procedure to re- view concerns raised by inspectors It will require independent agency staffers—from outside the in- spectorls direct line of supervision—to investigate disputes between inspectors and airlines. Lund says he now has less conflict with Northwest and FAA supervisors than before. The report “reaffirms to me to keep going. to keep doing what I‘m doing." says Lurid. For Discussion 1. 1|Which internal and external stakeholders are posi- tively and negatively affected by the behavior of safety inspectors? 2. IWhich of the six general environmental forces are influencing Northwest’s behavior toward Mark Land? Discuss 3. Use the four approaches to deciding ethics] dilem- mas to evaluate whether Northwest and the FAA are treating Mr. Lurid ethically. 4. How might the FAA promote ethics within the airline industry? 5. To what extent did Northwest and the FAA act in a socially responsible manner? Explain. Source: Excerpted from Stanley Holmes, "Airline Safety: A Whistlehlower's Tale." Businessl'l'ieek. February I l. 2008. pp. 43—52. ...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern