American Airlines vs FAA – WTF?

I received an interesting email from AA’s EVP of Marketing, Dan Garton, (They’re clearly in damage control mode)

Dear Alan Andrews,
As one of our most valued customers, please accept my apology on behalf of American Airlines® to you, your family and your fellow AAdvantage® customers for disrupting so many peoples’ lives with the recent flight cancellations related to the inspection of our MD-80 aircraft fleet.

Like I said before, this is nothing but a disagreement between AA and the FAA over the spacing of ties on cable bundles specified on an airworthiness directive several years ago. THERE IS NO SAFETY ISSUE INVOLVED.

I know a little something about aircraft maintenance having been a helicopter mechanic in the Marine Corps, and I have a good friend who’s an engineer with Boeing. There is no doubt in my mind that American Airlines complied with the AD. There is absolutely no reason those flights had to be canceled except that American was afraid that the FAA would ground their MD80 fleet.

So now we have a company losing millions of dollars, passengers stranded all over the country and bad press because a government agency decided to throw its weight around to make an example. The FAA isn’t taking any heat over this, according to the media they’re just forcing the evil airlines to make repairs they’ve been avoiding to save money. As far as I’m concerned this fiasco is 100% the fault of the FAA. Even if the cable ties DO need to be another inch to the left or the retention clips need to be facing the other direction (doubtful), there’s no reason it couldn’t be done in the course of routine maintenance. So you can thank the FAA for forcing American to cancel flights and disrupt air travel nationwide when there was no need for it.


That’s pretty common with federal agencies. The BATF, the FCC, the EPA and any other of the alphabet soup agencies all guilty of selecting businesses and individuals to be made an example of.

I have news for you: If the feds decide to make an example of you, you’re toast even if you’ve done nothing wrong. Any agency that gets you in their sights, any bureaucrat you happen to piss off one day, they will find something to nail you with even if it costs millions of dollars and takes years to “investigate”. They will do it and they won’t back down even if they KNOW you’re innocent. Especially if they know you’re innocent – that means the bureaucrat was wrong and that can’t be allowed to happen so they’ll go out of their way to find or create something you’ve done wrong.


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