Inspector Predicted Danger Before Buffalo Crash

An inspector told his superiors at the F.A.A. that Colgan Air’s test flights of a new model were unsatisfactory.

Comments: 125

  1. Nice to know that the FAA is gambling with our lives so that they can keep Colgate happy.

  2. Well I certainly believe Mr. Monteleon. Given his experience and wisdom, I would like to know if he recommends an airline for travel - an airline that conducts tests properly and makes safety a priority.

  3. The airline industry policies are now trying make the mantra "flying is safer than driving" fail.
    It is disgusting to see the salaries paid for all the pilots and the cost cuttings they have done with the services. Now more bad news is piling up with testing and maintenance.

  4. It is said if inspectors are not allowed to do their job. Congress should investigate the FAA's relationship to the airline industry.

  5. Sounds like the FAA acts like the FDA, wanting to help companies more than consumers. SCARY!

  6. If you have ever had to interact with FAA management, then this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The FAA has a lot of very good people; unfortunately none of them are in management.

  7. This is despicable.

  8. The FAA has rarely, if ever, taken action on a known potential safety problem until enough loss of life occurred in an accident.

    Pilots had been asking for bulletproof cockpit doors for 35 years before 9/11.

    Don't expect changes to that mentality.

  9. please can i cancel the Dash 8 flight i have booked for july

  10. Shame on Continental for not overseeing the training at Colgan. They share in the responsibility.

  11. The "private sector knows best" mentality at work, again, in the federal government.

    Thanks to the anti-regulatory forces (you know who you are, Goerge, Dick, Newt, etc.) for making the FAA a tool of the airlines (i.e., $$$) instead of an agent of safety (i.e., the public).

  12. An excellent inspector with 40 years of experience at the top of his game suddenly pushed to a desk job by management because he is actually doing his job and knows what he is talking about.

    I trust the guy on the ground is telling the truth, not his supervisors. This reeks of stupidity--what, are the supervisors getting kickbacks? What would motivate them to refer to a regulated company as a "customer"?

  13. This farce of the FAA impartially supervising the airline industry will continue as long as the supervisors come from the industry itself. It is a case of the Foxes guarding the hen house.

    But, look, after all, what difference does it make if a few hundred people periodically die unnecessarily in crashes if the industry itself is profitable. Profits are what make this country great. You know, its more important to protect the jobs of the people who make and sell airplanes than the lives of people who fly in them. Isn't that really what the truth is?

  14. Welcome to the protection of the Industries club. The CIA with inaccurate reports,the FBI ignoring the Terrorists,the regulators making cozy with the bank folks,the Interior giving away all the resources for a good party time etc. The FAA is just another one of the incompetent agencies that are staffed with lifers who want to be loved by the wolves they are supposed to protect us from. How mwny of these guys "double dip' with a second career with the airlines after they "retiree" at age 45?
    Lets face it -we need very clear and severe regulations on the regulators.

  15. This is very disturbing and I hope Mr. Monteleon will get the support and help he needs.

  16. The FAA is too busy going on witch hunts at Part 135 operators, who have NEVER had an accident, to worry about the safety of those people flying on large commercial carriers. They take great joy in taking away certificates and putting people out of business - people with impeccable safety records and legal training programs...It's just so much easier to get the "little guys." I know for certain as FAA did this to my brother - a highly decorated military aviator - and not only broke his spirit but for certain, contributed to his early death.

  17. I think that until we can sue a public servant like we can sue a Director of a public company, we will have this corporate behavior of FAA self protection and hiding the truth

  18. Something smells very rotten. This guy is 64. It would have been easier for him to retire than rock the boat. He should be given a big reward and an apology and asked to help head a better FAA.

    Instead the FAA has communicated to inspectors that they had better be quiet. Scary.

  19. If you click on an external link after the end of the article, you learn that 50 people were killed in that crash. Oddly, the reporter, who wrote both articles, neglected to include the death toll, which gives needed emphasis to the FAA's inexcusable failures. One can only hope that some of Mr. Monteleon's superiors will be fired - and really they should be held personally liable as well - but what are the chances?

    The number of people deeply and tragically affected - to the point of lives literally shattered forever - by the needless, preventable deaths of those 50 must reach into the hundreds. One has to empathize with what must be Mr. Monteleon's agony and anger at what happened despite his best efforts to do his job only to be hamstrung by incompetent and careless supervisors. Those supervisors must pay somehow for their behavior - guilty consciences, if indeed they are capable of such, are not enough. Their careers should be ruined, for what they have done is to commit negligent homicide.

  20. Thank God for individuals like Mr. Monteleon who won't be silenced despite the personal and professional toll it must be taking. Shame, shame, shame on every other individual within the FAA who let him stand alone, tried to silence the truth and took outright action to get rid of him.

    This angers me to no end, but must be even more heart-breaking and infuriating to those who lost loved ones as a result of that doomed Buffalo flight.

    What has happened to the moral compasses of the people at Colgan and the FAA who had a hand in allowing such situations to exist? Each and every one of them has blood on their hands.

  21. So, are there a slew of lawsuits in the works, or is it not frivolous enough for American courts?

  22. FAA-SEC-FDA-they all have the same inept head-in-the sand practices. They'll say they reported it and take no further action. and you wonder why we don't want to fly anymore? give me an electric train - more environmentally friendly and at least I have a chance to jump out if there's trouble.

  23. Why do we fund safety tests and inspections if we ignore the results? This is an example of government money corrupted by special interests. These types of safety departments should be completely independent.

  24. Sadly, the problems revealed in this story do not begin and end with FCC oversight of the airline industry. The fact is that the structure and design of all regulatory agencies (FAA, FDA, FCC, etc.) increases the likelihood for inapproriate political and industry influence. THe phenomenon is known as "agency capture" and it occurs even when regulators have the best of intentions--and it is even more pronounced when a deregulatory philosophy is embraced by the executive branch. The managers who tried to silence Mr. Monteleon should face civil and criminal liability for their actions.

  25. Over and over and over again we read about how federal agencies, especially during the Bush Administration, acted as though the regulated companies, not the public interest, were their clients.

    Repeatedly, people at FDA, FAA, EPA and elsewhere were beat down when they tried to do their jobs. The word got out to others in those agencies, and we live (or die) with the consequences.

    Federal employees should not have to sacrifice their livelihoods just to do their jobs.

    The problem of regulatory agencies being the captives of the industries they regulate has been with us for many years, not least because so many regulators come from those agencies, because lower-level agency personnel aspire to private sector jobs that pay so much better than the government, and because the congressional committees that oversee these agencies are constantly begging for campaign contributions from the regulated industries.

    But the problem became more acute with the Reagan Administration, which came into Washington with the ludicrous idea that regulatory agencies had become too harsh and the way of the future was collaboration and voluntary compliance. The Bush Administration was even worse.

    Does any sensible person still believe this works, especially in areas where basic public safety is involved?

    Whistleblower protections and the occasional shakeup are inadequate. Two fundamental reforms are needed: Much more stringent limitations on the revolving door between the regulator and the regulated, and more stringent limitations on the ability of legislators to build a war chest with the money they raise from regulated industries.

  26. The FAA thinks it works for the airlines. This is made clear everytime you hear about an NTSB recommendation for improved safety that's put on the back burner by the FAA because of its cost.

    I'm willing to pay a few bucks more for a ticket to be sure all airlines are following the same safety rules.

  27. If his charges were truly baseless then the company would sue him for libel and/or slander. The fact that they don't means they are probably true.

    As for the FAA, all I can say is that this is another example of how well government bureaucracy works. A lot of you who share my outrage about this story also want the government to take over health care. I can't understand why you can't make the connection.

  28. Rock on Mr. Monteleon! It's good to see people with integrity fighting for what is right.

  29. Let's see; we have a man who reports airplane design problems to the FAA, the agency for which he works, and he gets punished. Then they demote him and transfer him to an area of the FAA that monitors landing and takeoff problems. He notes them and gets reprimanded for doing that. What is wrong with this picture?

    Perhaps someone should clean house at the agencies that are supposed to be protecting the people who pay their salaries. (Hint: it's not the lobbiests!) Not only can you not serve both God and Mammon (the old business god), you can not serve government and Mammon.

    What is wrong with our country? Have we raised a generation of cheats and scoundrels? People who like the unjust steward say, "Take thy bond and write 80"? People making bargains to keep a plan on schedule instead of acting to correct what turned out to be fatal design flaws? People ignoring employees who are doing their department and the American public a service by telling it like it is and punishing them for doing what they've been paid to do?

    We certainly can't be "the greatest nation on earth" and continue to behave in this fashion. Many of the current problems could have been nipped in the bud if the federal employees warning their superiors, and in some cases congress itself, had not been blown off and otherwise ignored.

  30. I agree with post#5 and post#6. Federal agencies like the FAA, FDA and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, etc. have a lot of very good people. For some reason, the very good people always seem to be the ones being held down at the bottom doing grunt work while the mediocre ones rise to the management level and at worst ruins the effectiveness of the agency and mismanages it or at best is incompetent and not effective in the management role (and thus resorts to passing-the-buck type of behavior).

    This also seems to be generally true in the private industries as well.

    Why is this so? Is there something inherently degenerative about the U.S. culture that playing politics is the way to get promoted while doing a good job is the surest way to keep oneself permanent grounded in the trenches?

  31. Don't worry, our crack bureaucracy will handle the problem here. It is obviously the whistle blower again. Reminds me of that FBI troublemaker fussing about a foreigner buying jumbo jet flying lessons without the landing parts.

  32. This agency needs a shake-up. Managers found to have bent the rules, or ginned the numbers, or used ineffective methodologies need to be fired. Mr Monteleone should be promoted to head his department. This will send a message throughout the agency that good practices will be rewarded, and bad ones will be penalized.

  33. This is the primary problem throught the Federal government and Armed Forces bureaucracies. The process is more important then the actual outcomes. The actual outcomes ie.,the Buffalo air disaster. Well that's your problem. We at least filed the appropriate paper work and cashed the checks. Until government is made to be totally accountable and transparent the disasters and bobies will continue to pile up.

  34. Just one more example of what we have witnessed during the toxic Bush administration of putting private profit ahead of public safety. The interests of private business always, always, always drove the agenda. Public safety concerns were a nuisance to be ignored. And God help the 'messengers'. We've seen what happens to them.

  35. I do not know Mr. Monteleon... He may indeed be a prickly personality with poor people skills and a short fuse... He may indeed be a pain to supervise... But he was dead right (unfortunately) about this airline and that airplane...

    From what I read, and from 50 years of experience with the FAA (as a pilot and airplane owner), it is more likely than not, that he is being punished by his superiors for making their comfortable jobs uncomfortable.. He was the nail that stuck up, so he got pounded down...

    They will continue to CYA by claiming they are protecting Mr. Monteleon's privacy - meaning cover their own butts..

  36. Undue political influence from industry on government agencies should be handled like bribery--it's just as poisonous but somehow it is considered acceptable. Why this double standard?

  37. Maybe they could pay the pilots a non-insulting wage if the do nothing executives were payed what they are actually worth.

  38. The point this article is making is hard to understand at the outset and for several paragraphs. The opening point that "the airline was going to have trouble flying that model" is ambiguous--was this because of issues with the aircraft, employees' actions, or Colgan management? I like to be able to get the main point of an article from the opening 1-2 paragraphs, and the ambiguity of this clause hinders that.

  39. There should be a full disclosure of all facts for the families of the 50 people who perished in the Buffalo crash.

    If Mr. Monteleon's investigation turns out to be accurate, and the FAA skirted safety regulations to appease the avaition company, then big changes must be made to end this cozy relationship.

    And those responsible for breaking the law should be held accoutable - for everyone's sake.

  40. Thank you once again, George W. Bush and everyone who voted for him. In addition to the toll of over 4,000 dead US soldiers in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, and many deaths in Katrina, we can add the 50 or so deaths incurred on this flight. I'll leave out the 3,000 deaths on 9/11 and the several deaths due to the anthrax terrorist. Truly, George W. Bush, you are a man of God.

  41. I hate to say it, in light of recent events, but there is a real need to balance the benefits of all regulatory regimes against their costs. That said, that is a decision that only Congress can make. No regulatory agency--much less an individual manager--can unilaterally abrogate responsibility for the job with which Congress has tasked it. To do so is unethical and very possibly illegal.

  42. Until Americans begin believing in and supporting government (and gov't regulatory agencies), and put their money where their collective mouth is, they will continue to get what they pay for - ie, poor quality and relatively toothless regulation, and a tremendous financial incentive for regulators to want to move on to private industry where the 'real' money can be made. Some will pay with their lives for this discredited (anti-gov't) creed. Is it considered 'unamerican' to serve the public interest, and not (sacred) big business?

  43. Get the FAA's attention; FIRE or demote some of these middle or higher level managers. Public safety is too important to entrust to the ignorant or those with warped objectives.

  44. Last year Continental switched planes from a 737 to a Q400 and also doubled the ticket price on the Newark to Myrtle beach route for Thanksgiving weekend. We decided that even with high fuel costs it would be cheaper to drive the 12 hours.

    This year, the plane is the same (the Q400) but they lowered the ticket cost back to the original amount that it was on the 737. After reading this article we'll drive again this year. We'd rather take our chances on I-95.

  45. In response to Kate Stokes (#27):

    There's a big difference between the FAA/FDA/SEC etc. and the proposed federal role in health care.

    The FAA et al. are regulatory agencies and get confused in their priorities between the industries they are supposed to be regulating and the citizens whose interests prompted the regulation in the first place.

    However, at least as I understand it, the proposed federal role in health care would not be regulatory. Instead of being caught between two conflicting interests, a health care agency would be more like the Social Security Administration or the NTSB, neither of which consumers seem to have much of a problem with.

    The key difference is the lack of two masters. It's hard to put a face on the hidden master -- the millions and millions of unknown people who are being served -- in comparison with the industries whose people present conciliatory and flattering faces to regulators every day. The Social Security Administration is used to doing a single job of issuing benefits, just as the NTSB is used to doing a single job of investigating fatal transportation accidents.

    In these latter two cases, both components of the federal government have the luxury of just serving the public, not facing contamination with friends/colleagues/"customers" who have more direct daily influence and thus prevent impartiality.

  46. Yet another thing for the Obama administration to clean up. During the Bush years, everything was politicized and regulators were just enablers for whatever business wanted to do. This is another example of the results of this policy.

  47. This is yet another sickening report of bureaucrats in government (as well as the private sector) having no conscience.

  48. As a private pilot, I must add my plea: We must seriously look at the FAA's conflicting mission. They are charged with regulating the safety of aviation. And, they are also charged with facilitating the economic success of aviation. In the 1930s, when it was the CAA, that probably made sense. Not today! Additionally, the post-accident recommendations which the NTSB makes are not binding on the FAA. The FAA can choose to ignore what the NTSB says. Because of pressure from the airlines, the FAA sometimes stalls on needed changes. This has led to serious delays in making necessary safety-related changes to aircraft, and the Air Traffic Control System

  49. And you'll noted, whenever someone who takes their regulatory duties seriously gets moved up to management, or -- even worse! -- appointed to head an agency, the howls of industry, their coddlers in both parties, and the free-market facists of Fox, manage to drive them from their post in a short period of time.

    Really, unless we institutionalize the idea that regulation is important, and reward and publicly support the people who do it well, this will always be the case.

  50. This comes as not surprise to me. The Federal government employs the shoot the messenger problem in safety issues throughout its domain. I worked for a federal contractor for many years and saw this occur over and over again. Until the federal government starts listening to whistle blowers these tragic accidents will continue to occur. I will not be flying on any Dash 8's in the future.

  51. One of the things that's telling in the article is that the Colgan pilots did things that were clearly against the rules even with an FAA inspector in the cockpit.

    That tells you two things: the FAA is not taken sufficiently seriously by the airlines, and the pilots are under so much stress and fatigue that it's likely their behavior is even worse when the cop is not sitting in the jump seat.

    Ponder that the next time you board one of their planes.

    And for those people who complain about frivolous litigation and the plaintiffs' bar, ask youselves this: when the regulatory system fails us, what else is left?

  52. I know I will get tarred and feathered for this - but it appears the Bush administration has infiltrated ALL LEVELS of the Federal bureaucracy, and their incompetence will only be discovered when people die.

    As a former GS-15, I agree with several of the posts that management (GS-13 and above for sure), in many cases, are unable to perform their job - plain and simple.

    I tried for a year to get rid of totally incompetent people who did no work, and there were only roadblocks put in the way. I got rid of two, one transferred and the other (on a term appointment) I refused to extend the term. When I talked to the receiving office for the one who transferred, I was asked to give the person a grade between "A" and "F". I gave a "C" or "C-" grade to him, and the person I was talking to wasn't concerned.

    .

  53. The crash of the Colgan Buffalo flight had little to NOTHING to do with the actual "issues" which this article focuses on. The crash was a direct result of poor pilotage which results from a myriad of factors, most notably the lack of rest allowed pilots and the diligence which they applied to the flight at hand, particularly given the weather. However, with that said, the reports by Mr. Monteleon DO show that Colgan Air was not reluctant to cross every "t" and dot every "i" when it came to preparedness and following established processes. This appears to indicate a culture of corner-cutting, sloppy operations and resource management by this airline.

    It’s amazing to me, as a businessman and a private pilot, that airlines can have such extreme disparity in pay for pilots. As a pilot, one either flies the plane safely according to procedures and establish practices, or you don’t. Not doing so is unacceptable, particularly when you have 100’s of lives on board. Following a set of prescribed rules (when you deal with them every day) and being prepared for a list of emergency conditions, is part and parcel of the job. ALL commercial pilots must do this all the time and they all have many lives in their hands, so why is a junior pilot worth so much less than a senior, and why are senior pilots paid as much as they are? Pilots either do the job adequately, or they don’t. You don’t get extra value for being “better” than standard.

  54. Is this really surprising given the dismantling of federal regulatory agencies by the Bush administration? Many agencies were politicized by inserting party apparatchiks in positions where career civil servants with no explicit party loyalty were supposed to be. For more, see http://www.thenation.com...

  55. The FAA is controlled by and operates for the financial benefit of the airlines. Anyone who thinks otherwise is ill-informed and naive.

    An example of this is the FAA's refusal to issue any regulations setting safety standards for an airline cabin as a workplace. Also, the FAA allows the aircraft interior on certain routes to be drenched in pesticides.

    These and any kind of oversight and regulation that costs an airline money will rarely be imposed without airline consent. The airlines control the FAA, not other way around.

  56. This is an example of why I am so concerned about the decline of newspapers; they are our most reliable source for good investigative journalism like this.

  57. I would not trust the FFA to do anything to protect me, that self-serving agency has been a mess since the second WORST president Ronnie Raygun deregulated the whole airline industry and allowed all the crooks and liars to surface. Oh and FYI in my opinion, GW Bush holds the #1 place as worst thing ever appointed to the office. Nice to know that the people that try to do the right thing are punished. There really is a special place in hell for bosses.

  58. I think it is unfortunate that the name Continental has been removed from the discussion of the Buffalo crash. Continental permitted its brand name to be painted on the aircraft. That implies some ownership and responsibility for the quality of the product.

  59. "But when he reported problems to his F.A.A. superiors, he was suspended from important portions of his job overseeing Colgan’s acquisition of the Dash 8 and given a desk job, he said. "

    He shouldn't have been interfering w/ the airline's use of their new planes, should have just let the free market sort it out.

  60. Shame on the FAA a form of terrorism in disguise two hundred and more valuable individuals killed, so much suffering for the families whose loses will be irreparable, people who in the other hand trusted the FAA and the air line. Shame on the incompetence and negligence at all levels.

  61. Shameful! All those innocent lives lost so Colgan Air could inflate their bottom line. Why are their planes still flying and why are the unprincipled operators of this rogue airline not being indicted for manslaughter?

  62. It's tragic that it takes a plane crash with loss of life to validate a critic's claims. Or do we take it the other way: Mr. Monteleon's criticism's were like a stopped clock - if you wait long enough they will seem to be validated when an otherwise inevitable occurrence takes place.

    And worse, how do we deal with the critic whose attacks appear to invite the consequence they predict (like Cheney saying that future terrorist attacks on the US will have been Obama's fault – wink, wink, nod, nod, he secretly wants it to happen because he’ll be proven right).

    I'll be interested to see the outcome of the Transportation Department IG's investigation of Mr. Monteleon's complaints. On it's face we see an industry expert spending the last quarter of his career in government trying to make things better. I suspect his seniority (not to mention an assumed empty nest) grants a certain freedom to call it the way he sees it – we’ll learn more from the IG about whether his judgement about the lack of agency response and his criticism of a “cozy” relationship with the regulated company are on track.

    For perspective, it takes a refined judgement to manage in real world safety scenarios where companies and customers both might think their needs to be space to take some practical risks if it keeps the regulated transportation service reliable and affordable. The thing is that when managers get five actual “rocket scientists” risking their careers to tell them it’s wrong to launch the Challenger and they can’t hear it that their profession takes a hit. The column cites evidence that FAA managers will put themselves in that position calling to question whether agency bias is to not support their own regulations when operations require otherwise.

    Of course, the safety board will find that who-all thought it was OK to continue autopilot control in the Q400 while descending for landing during icing conditions never had to take over manual control with extreme conditions in effect having insufficient altitude to recover from a problematic transition. What that has to do with Mr. Monteleon’s complaints about pilot fatigue is not clear to me – either it was an approved operation or not and if, as has been reported so far, it was, perhaps should not have been. It appears that it might involve too much risk to take at low altitude for pilots in any condition.

  63. Follow the $$$$$$$$. Boy, is the public a bunch of sheep. First Iraq (whooops), now this. Anybody still think we can depend on the INTEGRITY of the FAA???? Will anybody actually DO anything? No, sheep just baaaaaa.

  64. Yet another federal government agency that's too cozy with industry (FAA,FDA,and especially SEC). Instead of protecting the taxpayer who pays their salary, they are too busy kissing up to businesses from where their friends and prior employment come.

  65. They should charge those inspectors at the FAA that pencil whipped that complaint with criminally negligent homicide. The same goes for the flight instructors who passed that ill fated pilot.
    The pilot himself should have pulled himself out of flying passengers for hire after he flunked the five simulator tests.
    Finally, this has been common knowlege for years that pilots are working too many hours. I had a pilot friend tell me at least ten years ago to fly only in the mornings becuase they make the pilots fly long hours.
    All of this is a joke. The FAA knew what was going on, Colgon Air knew what was going on as did Gulfstream.
    They all knew it. This is similar to the trucking industry.
    Truckers keep two log books. One log book is called the "comic book" and that is the log that they give to the police which shows that they only drive eight hours in a day and get so much rest and so on.
    The other log book, not shown to the police is the real one.
    This all goes back to the deregulation of the airline and trucking industries.
    Both the airlines and the truckers can't make a decent living without fudging something.
    It costs a small fortune to maintain, train and fly and airplane and crew. The public is too cheap to pay for what a real airfare should be, so now they are stuck with these bargain basement planes and pilots.
    You get what you pay for!

  66. Why is the story always the same? It can involve air safety, auto safety, federal funding, or financial shenanigans. Why is there not some "whistleblower czar" to whom any government (or non governmental) employee could bring a complaint and receive real attention and protection? He or she could be in the Dept of Justice and have prosectutorial power, and the office's activities would be open to public examination.

  67. hmm, government managers overruling inspectors while compromising safety. Sounds familiar. Anyone ever heard of NASA, and what happened in two instances where management ignored critical warnings from engineers in both 1986 and 2003?

  68. Concerning the way the FAA operates, none of this is news. And, IMO as long as the FAA remains a "government" agency it will continue to fall victim to all kinds of internal politics, string-pulling and cronyism. The airframe manufacturers,engine manufacturers, and especially the airlines all have a VERY powerful lobby up on Capital Hill and you better believe they use it!
    Years ago it was United that told the FAA what it would and would not do and then in the late 80's-early 90's it was Alaska-----then they had the terrible crash with the loss of all on board (including quite a number or Alaska employees!) due to lack of proper maintenance on the elevator jack-screw mechanism. Then, as usual the FAA HAD to act!!!!
    Then on October 31st 1994 there was the crash of American Eagle flight 4184.
    A book "Unheeded Warningt" by Stephen A. Frederick give a gtood look at how politics plays a HUGE role on the inside at the FAA.

    Also, there is a book called "The Unfreindly Skies" by Rodney Stich that gives a good look inside the FAA at the beginning of the jet age and how the powerful lobby at United Airlines kept the FAA in line.

    There is good reason why the FAA is known in aviation circles as the "Tombstone Agency".

  69. Where was Continental in all this ? The flight was sold as "Continental Express". Surely they are culpable if their contractor is not up to scatch.Over the last decade the once independent regional carrier has been reduced to a lowest bid contractor. Who is the accountable executive in this case?

  70. Those individuals at the FAA who sequestered Mr. Monteleon should be charged with negligent homicide.

  71. This is the kind of person I want protecting my hide when I place my life in the hands of an airline. There is no place for half measures & questionable practices at 35,000 feet! Even the appearance of less than thorough procedures should be investigated.

  72. Anyone surprised when a government agency is in bed with the industry? NTSB cares about safety. The FAA does not.

  73. Why do I have the feeling that for the past eight years my tax dollars have not been spent on regulating airlines, food safety and the banking system as much as promoting the profit interests of airlines, agriculture and the banking system?

    Tell us. Did you guys at the FAA, FDA and SEC do anything productive while we were out?

  74. Living the Bush legacy -- or dying, as in this case..

    Republicans --- Profits before people!
    Lets not forget California : more republican (bush) legacy. With the republican 'no taxes' mantra, we will soon have more dead, or dying because of the complete loss of most social services -- including children's SCHIP!

  75. Mr. Monteleone should be appointed as chief auditor of the FAA - and given authority to fire - by the administration.

  76. Some of the posters here have the wrong assumptions. I worked for an major airplane manufacturer some years ago and the revolving door wasn't from FAA to private industry it was the other way around. Most of the FAA inspectors who oversaw the aircraft certification used to work for the airplane manufacturers. It was routine that an Engineer from the manufacturer would retire or quite early and go to the FAA. Ask yourself this .... how would an FAA inspector get the necessary Engineering expertise to oversee an airplane manufacturer???

    Of course, the story if you read it closely is an FAA inspector who is looking at an Airline's ability to operate a certain make and model of aircraft. This takes pilots who demonstrate they are adequately trained to fly the aircraft plus maintenance personnel who are trained to service the aircraft.

    If you want to point fingers at someone point it at your representative. When an airline wants to side step "intrusive" regulation they call in political favors from their elected representatives to put pressure on the FAA.

  77. How many times do we have to repeat this kind of story? If correct, this demonstrates once again the utter fiction of regulatory integrity. All those dotted lines for reporting of information leading nowhere. A grotesque charade of responsibility we have come to expect from the FAA.

  78. Now that we have a new administration maybe whistleblowers will get their protections back.

    The Bush admin was hostile to them, especially when it came to accounting and procurement problems related to war profiteering. The office in charge of protecting whistlblowers was doing the opposite. The FAA was just another government agency caught up in the degegulation frenzy of business can do no wrong and government should do their bidding.

    Maybe Obama should appoint Capt. Sully to the head of the FAA. He seems to have the right experience and attitude.

  79. Unfortunately, the advice du jour in the world of career coaching and job seeking is "network" -- network on the job, network off the job, network if you have a job, network if you don't have a job.

    I believe one of the results of this is we have come value who you know over what you know, sometimes with unfortunate results. So many public employees, from members of Congress and their staff, to employees of the SEC, the FAA and other regulatory agencies, want to move on to jobs on Wall Street and the corporate world that we end up with disasters like Madoff and Buffalo.

  80. Let's go back a little further than Colgan and its flight training.

    The first thing that a would-be pilot is taught is to manage a stall. Push the stick forward,and gain a little speed.

    This pilot, as I understand it, stick shaker on,falling out of the glide slope at a low airspeed, pulled back on the stick. At the same time, according to the tape, the first officer says: 'I raised the flaps'.

    If I am correct in my understanding of the situation, will some one please tell me how the aircraft could possibly have continued to fly?

    These would be absolutely basic errors and show a total lack of understanding of powered flight.

    I cannot see tiredness being a major factor.

    If I am correct, should we not be looking at the initial training of the pilots at their flying school?

    David Finch

  81. This unfortunately is typical of Republican administrations, especially George W. Bush's. They seed the regulatory agencies with managers whose assignment is to block any proceedings that threaten business owners' profits. Unable or unwilling to eliminate agencies assigned to protect the public against corporate greed, the GOP dedicates itself to hobbling those agencies from within. One primary tactic: punish or sidetrack anyone who tries to fulfill an agency's mission. See also EPA, FDA, etc.

  82. Fire all the managers above him immediately.

  83. This is absolutely infuriating. As if a banking crisis, credit crisis, mounting job losses, and trouble brewing overseas weren't enough, now we find that these buffoons at the FAA endager the lives of those who can still afford to fly. This is too much. I don't care if the other macro economic are mors important, an example needs to be made here. Imagine your loved ones having a few seconds of terror as they fall out of the sky and burn in jet fuel on impact. This is the fate that the people who silenced Mr. Monteleon would have on us, and it is the definiton of criminal negligence, and they should be severely punished. People have died and will continue to die if these villains are not purged from the F.A.A., if not society.

  84. Unfortunately history repeats itself - both the SEC (with Madoff) and the FAA (Colgan and other airlines) get too cozy with the industries they are regulating. It's common for cities to rotate metermaid assignments frequently to reduce the incidence of bribes or relationships that would impede issuing fines. Perhaps these regulators can configure systems that operate more objectively and thus more effectively.

    I'm reprinting excerpts from a NYTimes piece from April 10, 2008 where this issue is presciently discussed (fyi - Oberstar is a congressman). http://www.nytimes.com...

    That attitude could be dangerous, however, Mr. Oberstar said. “Time passes, and ‘Oh, we haven’t had an accident, and now we can be cozy and play patty-cake with the airlines,’ ” he said, describing what he fears could be the attitude at the aviation agency. “As soon as you do that, you lose the enforcement mind-set, and you lose the sense of the margin of safety.”

    Mr. Oberstar’s criticism coincides with greater scrutiny of a number of regulators and the industries they oversee, including Wall Street firms.

    “There’s always a concern that the regulator is too kind, or too controlled by the industry that they regulate,” said L. Nick Lacey, the former director of flight standards at the F.A.A., who is now with Morten, Beyer & Agnew, an aviation consulting firm in Arlington, Va.

    Mr. Sabatini and two other F.A.A. officials received a scathing letter last week from Mr. Oberstar, contending that they had tried to mislead Congress about the agency’s procedures and that the agency was too accommodating to the airline industry.

    Former F.A.A. officials say there has long been concern over the warmth between agency inspectors and the airlines they are charged to investigate. On one hand, the flying public can be helped if inspectors are thoroughly familiar with an airline’s record. But such familiarity can also cause inspectors to give an airline some breaks, one official said.

  85. Bravo to the Press. The reader would have no knowledge of FAA actions if the Times had not reported this story. We need Press follow-up with information on how they have treated the "inspector" and what penalty has been taken against existing FAA management. Only the Press can keep a watch on government agencies like FAA. Where would we be without a free press.

  86. This story exposes just one more reason to avoid air travel.

    Frankly passenger air travel is environmentally unsound,
    and economically unjustifiable and unnecessary in most cases. If the kind of maintenance training and safety failures demonstrated in this story keep happening flying will loose its purportedly excellent safety record.

    We have only to look to the loss of the Air France fly-by-wire light weight composite Air Bus aircraft that just fell from the sky when struck by lightening and hit by turbulence to understand the folly of way the travel and aircraft industry is going.

    Travel by air should not be cheep, it should be very highly regulated, very expensive and very rare.
    If it were, we could then dispense with airports all the other accouterments of air travel and put the resources saved into more environmentally sound and sustainable enterprises.

    Turn all the materials in those big birds to higher uses like solar panels, screen doors, light weight ground vehicles and beer cans.

    If an end to mass public air travel inevitably leads to a decline in globalization so much the better.

  87. Do you really want more government?

    They are all crooks! Too many lawyers to protect everyone from the average person.

    Cogan was a disaster from the beginning. What do you expect to get from a pilot being paid $26,000/year. With a little bit effort you can collect that from McDonalds flipping hamburgers - at least you won't kill people when you are tired (or spaced out).

  88. I can't agree with your readers universal condemnation of the FAA. Much more information is needed than the Times has reported on. The inertia of a government agency is too often influenced by the demands of congressional overseers, ridiculous public expectations, a lack of funding, internal politics and of course the occasional rogue inspector who constantly seeks affirmation and cannot be fired. I would very much like to see more effort by the Times to answer how these allegations relate to the specifics of the crash (which I recall involve a combination of factors - icing, stall warnings, pilot fatigue, etc.). You're running one of the best news organizations left in the world, get busy.

  89. F.A.A.= Fixed After Accident

  90. "Government bad. Regulation bad."

    The realities of an interconnected technologically advanced society requires competent governance. We've seen what happens when government regulations are ignored in the financial industry, the coal industy, and again, in the airline industry.

    When will people understand that conservative dogma is harmful, even deadly.

  91. I think the NY DA should file murder charge against the FAA managers that were directly involved with demoting this inspector.

  92. What are the names of his bosses that manipulatively and cunningly hid these findings?

    These people should be publicly 'outed' so that others learn there will be repurcussions for this incredible lack of judgement and apparent disconcern for the public's safety.

  93. The FAA is obviously populated by lying weasels that are now attempting to cover their exposed behinds. I am outraged. They are murderers if this is true.

  94. "The nail that sticks up will be hammered down" is a saying in Japan and the FAA should put this on their logo.
    It's good to know that this scandal will not keep one single person from logging onto Southwest's website and buying tickets.

  95. To those who say that the FAA's failure to properly supervise Colgan Air is due to inept "government bureaucrats," think again.

    Those supervisors who tried to silence Mr. Monteleon were doing what they were directed to do from above. Untimately, the Colgan Air crash is the inevitable result of Reagan/Bush policies that promoted deregulation of industry. The underlying idea is that profits are more important than anything else, even than human lives.

    Makes me glad I can't afford to fly these days!

    - Pam Shira Fleetman, Acton MA

  96. I'll bet the supervisors are young and incapable to interpret rules and regulations. "Let alone enforce them" Just like after 9/11 - it was found that hundreds if not over a 1,000 airline employees at airports had false licenses to work on airplanes(fix and repair airframe and powerplant). The FAA probable has more unknowledgable desk personnel than knowledgeable inspectors.

  97. "ALL commercial pilots must do this all the time and they all have many lives in their hands, so why is a junior pilot worth so much less than a senior, and why are senior pilots paid as much as they are? Pilots either do the job adequately, or they don’t. You don’t get extra value for being “better” than standard."

    Junior pilots don't (can't) fly the same planes as senior ones. Should pilots get paid per passenger they safely land? It seems like that would discriminate against those flying cargo planes. Then again the insurance on cargo might exceed the payout for a turboprop puddle jumper full of people. Maybe pilots should be paid according to the insurance value of their total cargo, whether human or material.

  98. I'm starting to feel less worried about terrorists than our own regulatory agencies.

  99. It's easy to transfer this regulatory pattern to the banking/investment arm of government to imagine how we got into such a mess with derivatives and patched-together mortgage packages. When we all accept that whatever makes the most money is the highest priority for every activity, we get nailed.

  100. The FAA personals including the layer involved with Mr. Monteleon should be sent on unpaid leave until the case is settled. Unless such action is taken, people who tell it as is will always be branded as whistleblowers.

  101. Continental is handling concerns about Colgan well. I had booked a Newark-Buffalo flight (operated by Colgan), and have no fear of flying, but this one was really giving me stress. I decided to cancel and drive instead, but my ticket was nonrefundable. I called to express my concern, and they gave me a travel voucher in the same amount I paid for the flight. They did not dismiss my concerns about Colgan -- they were efficient and polite, and refunded me when, by all rights, they did not have to do so. Just wanted to put in my two cents about Continental -- I have always had good experiences with them. Perhaps they are partly to blame for oversight, but from my experience they are taking the situation seriously.

  102. There are chilling parallels with the SEC's refusal to read detailed whistleblower warnings about Bernie Madoff. I think corruption and insider-dealings are so rampant within our government that we are beyond hope.

    President Obama promised change, but so far it seems like business as usual. I would have liked to see the government clean up its act before it started exponentially expanding.

    Who is going to clean up these messes?

  103. At what cost are companies reaching for fiscal incentives?

    Public interest needs to become the new ideal. We are seeing this pattern across all industries from the FAA to the EPA. The scariest part is that this trend is becoming apparent even in universities. At Harvard Medical School, a professor withheld the side effects of a cholesterol reduction drug to his students because he also held a position at Pfizer.

    It seems as corporate ethics have become extinct.

  104. In light of the airliner tragedy, even if only 1% of what Mr. Monteleon said is accurate then heads should roll at the FAA. Will they?

  105. This is criminal.

  106. To the post Nr 87 who asked "Do you really want more government?"

    Heck yeah, but a responsible one! Not the Bush one!

    Question for you: Do you really want the free market to determine whether your family can fly safely?

  107. Many of the Colgan experiences that I have had have rattled my nerves. Discheveled and obese pilots (this is not an aesthetic issue - it is a health issue) continually late flights based on unrealistic schedules and overworked crews and consistent misinmformation at the gate particularly at Newark's terminal A . Continental should wake up and smell the coffee here.

  108. As an ex-flier, I repeat that the pilot's action, trying to pull up in a stall, is an ultra-basic error that shouldn't even have been possible for a sleepy, disoriented, under-trained pilot.
    Beyond that, if you want a really scary personal example of how the FAA and airlines work, and you are on any flight with a little glitch, such as returning to land, diverting, loss of cabin pressure, etc., try to find this reported anywhere: it isn't unless there is an actual crash or fatality. This means that there is no real federal database of maintenance or operational issues that can be used in a constructive way.

  109. Typical government agency. when thing are going fine, the managers and supervisors get all the credits. When things get wrong, lower level employees who are not politically connected get all the blames.

  110. Oh, come on, you whiners. The free market is working as it's supposed to. When enough people get killed, the consumer will stop buying tickets on this airline and it will go out of business!

    Haven't you ever heard of "creative destruction"? (And if the destruction just happens to be of you, or your spouse or kid or friend, maybe you think the airlines should be better regulated?!? What are you, some kind of "socialist"?)

  111. It is disconcerting to hear that the FAA enforces the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) so inconsistently. They wrote the book, so it is not a surprise that they can apply the rules in a manner that is at their convenience.

    I will be flying with Colgan on a Dash 8 Q400 to Burlington this weekend. How nice!

  112. this event occurred during the obama admnistration. why hasn't he or those he put in charge being questioned? Maybe its because he is flying home to the middle east to cavort with his friends and doesn't want to be disturbed.

  113. Do you wonder why people hate the government?
    The people at Colgan/Continental should be tried for manslaughter

  114. Wow! So it really was Bush's fault!

  115. To all of us complaining blitherly that the airlines gamble with our lives as a cost cutting measure. How many of us have clicked on a plane ticket online that saved us an extra $5?

    Let's be fair. We get what we pay for.

  116. "Haven't you ever heard of "creative destruction"? (And if the destruction just happens to be of you, or your spouse or kid or friend, maybe you think the airlines should be better regulated?!? What are you, some kind of "socialist"?)"

    If they crash enough planes, their insurance rates will eventually stop them from flying any more. Free market at work!!

  117. This sounds like the SEC and Madoff. Some of the most damage done to agencies was by the Bush (W) administration. He gutted every agency financially, put his corrupt friends in charge and gave a free pass to corporate America. Welcome to the land of greed.

  118. A Federal Agency more interested in helping big business than protecting the people for whom they work? Shocking. When are we the people going to take our country back?

  119. Is someone surprised?

    This isn't just the FAA and the airline industry. This is the way our entire federal government has operated for the last eight years, if not forever.

  120. Thanks for trying Mr. Monteleon. More folks should try to save lives and not flight schedules. Thanks Mathew for the story.

  121. Where can the public access this kind of information BEFORE the accident happens?

  122. wow...I'm flying one of those planes next week.

  123. The F.A.A. is guilty as charged.

    But ultimately it is the refusal of passengers to pay for maximum safety that creates the necessary tradeoff between safety and cost. The F.A.A. is essentially forced to make decisions that kill people because that is what the free market in a democracy orders them to do.

    Need proof? The F.A.A. lets parents carry lap children even while knowing that those infants will risk unnecessary death due to lack of protection during a survivable crash or turbulence. Because it wasn't really the government's decision, it was the paying passengers who decided and forced the government to go along.

    The F.A.A. actually does a remarkably good job with a very difficult situation.

  124. Michael, Bergen, NJ- I have to rebut your rather flip comment: How many people do you think would purchase that $5 cheaper ticket if it came with a disclaimer stating that your chances of crashing go up as the price of the ticket comes down?
    C'mon- Ethically, there should be absoultely no correlation between price and safety. Flying is either safe or it is not.

  125. Let's see if I understand: deregulation = money & profits for some, death for others? I guess that is why the capital has a new Reagan statue.