New FAA program strengthens protections for whistleblowers

The FAA launched a program that is designed to enable engineers, safety inspectors and other aviation safety employees to confidentially report safety-related issues without fear of retribution.

“Information shared and submitted via this new system will be used to validate or verify an aviation safety concern, identify the root cause, and determine the appropriate corrective action,” the FAA said.

The program, formally known as the Voluntary Safety Reporting Program, is the latest of several voluntary reporting programs the FAA has in place. For example, the Airport Voluntary Reporting System provides confidentiality to FAA Office of Airports employees who report safety hazards and the Aircraft Certification Safety Review Process enables unionized employees in the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service to elevate safety concerns without fear of retaliation, according to an FAA webpage.

• Related: Pilots praise beefed-up FAA aircraft certification

The new reporting program addresses a requirement included in legislation passed by Congress in December that was designed to strengthen safety and accountability in the FAA’s aircraft certification process. That legislation, which followed congressional investigations into the FAA’s certification of the Boeing 737 Max, required that the agency strengthen whistleblower protection for workers who report safety violations during certification.

Max crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 killed 346 people and led to the aircraft being grounded worldwide for the better part of two years.

The new anonymous reporting program will be available to approximately 7,400 FAA workers.

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