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Old 25th Apr 2001, 17:30
  #1 (permalink)  
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Top FAA Official Is Being Removed From Safety Post

Wednesday, April 25, 2001 12:50 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- One of the top-ranking safety officials at the Federal Aviation Administration is being removed from his job comes amid complaints from airline executives and FAA inspectors about the agency's approach to ensuring airline safety, Wednesday's Wall Street Journal reported.

Nicholas Lacey, who oversees 4,500 inspectors and other aviation-safety workers as the FAA's flight-standards director, is being reassigned within the agency and, according to FAA officials familiar with the decision, will be succeeded by Nick Sabatini, a manager in the agency's field office in Jamaica, N.Y.

Mr. Lacey didn't return calls seeking comment. An FAA spokeswoman said he would be reassigned to work on "key initiatives" in the area of international safety and a 10-year plan to enhance aviation capacity and improve air-traffic procedures.

"Mr. Lacey is a valuable asset to the agency and we want to use his skills in other areas," she said, reading from a statement. "It would be unfair to say that this is the result of pressure from airlines."

Mr. Lacey's reassignment comes as the Transportation Department's Inspector General is preparing a report expected to criticize a two-year-old program that encourages inspectors to spend less time examining individual wings and rivets and more time questioning carriers about their own safety procedures and training.

The program, known as the Air Transportation Oversight System, or ATOS, is supposed to encourage uniform compliance with government regulations as airlines grow larger and the task of inspecting their fleets the old-fashioned way, plane by plane, becomes more daunting. But the new approach has encountered internal resistance since it was introduced. Many local FAA managers and inspectors have complained that there is no need to change the agency's approach to inspections and that the FAA hasn't committed the resources needed to make the new program a success.

Old 25th Apr 2001, 18:03
  #2 (permalink)  
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Thumbs down

I know Nick Lacey quite well.

He is a good man and probably had good intentions.
If he was a thorn in the eye of airline execs and then removed from the position as a result... Uh does that reek of corruption or what?

Yeah, pay of the Republicans and get read of the safety guru, he is too much of a pain..
Let's get another yes-man in there.

Don't Stop The Carnival.....

Men, this is no drill...
Old 25th Apr 2001, 18:20
  #3 (permalink)  
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The accountability for the airline problems - particularly safety - was squarely planted on Jane Garvey's desk. Sacking Lacey didn't change a thing.

Sabatini is an unknown, but he's almost surely the "yes man."

If ATOS proceeds, we may be sure of the intent.

Under ATOS, the airlines would essentially certify and monitor themselves. Alaska 261 is glaring testimony as to where that will go. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind.

After AK-261, instead of ACTUALLY reviewing Alaska for safety deficiencies, the FAA facilitated a cover-up to the best of their ability. The media caught them at it, but the situation has actually gotten worse, since then. The FAA in DC (Garvey) has been well informed, but did nothing. A major investigation is underway, but the duration attests to the impending "zero-effect."

In the FAA, Lacey was known to have threatened anyone who embarrassed the FAA further - it got worse; Lacey was overriden and lost.

Lacey was doing his part to create and maintain the mess, but the wrong target got taken out.

It's up to Bush, now.
Old 26th Apr 2001, 07:02
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Blue & White
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Is that the same Nick Lacey from the 89th?
Old 26th Apr 2001, 08:42
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Cunning Artificer
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Good message to send to the FAA Inspectors eh? Annoy the airlines and you get bounced.

Go away and annoy the mechanics instead. Until they quit! There's too many of those whingeing mechanics costing the industry a fortune in wages already.

Don't worry. Have fun up there chaps, there's still a few of us left down here who can put the 'stand' in standards. But for how much longer?

Through difficulties to the cinema
Blacksheep is offline  
Old 26th Apr 2001, 09:29
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If you want to know the consequences of: cost-cutting in the Regulator, lack of appropriate surveillance, failure to train inspectors adequately, and self-regulation by an airline, see the Australian NTSB report on QANTAS 1 at BKK.
Old 26th Apr 2001, 14:57
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Blue and White:

I don't remember N.L. ex squadron, but he flew the mil. King Air and also was involved in the mil. B-747s.

I knew him from his position as Tower Air's
Director of Flight Ops, 1994 to 1997.

Men, this is no drill...
Old 27th Apr 2001, 06:32
  #8 (permalink)  
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I've gotten several E-mails suggesting that quite a few FAA heads will be rolled shortly.

My personal speculation is that Baby Jane (Garvey) will have to clean house, then resign to make room for another Texan.

We'll see.
Old 27th Apr 2001, 18:05
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The news accounts are confusing. They seem to steer the readers mind in the direction that the ATOS (if you decide to report yourself; we'll look at you) program (in some fashion) was the cause of the Alaska crash. The account below is representative of the entire FAA system and more accidents than just ASA-261.

Although time has a way of obscuring things, it's plain as day that everybody clear up to the White House was quite well informed that a crash was guaranteed and why with all the players named in advance, except the victims. If anything is true, ATOS was an interference to prevent safety and boost profits with the hope of nothing happening.

The latest addition to the Alaska 261 matter www.webpak.net/~skydream does a good job (along with the other matters discussed)of bringing the focus where it belongs.

I would have gone after Jane Garvey but maybe Skydrifter's prediction is on target. The major question is whether or not a single thing will be changed. The FAA people I know have been waiting for Lacey to become a scapegoat, with a few betting he would take Jane's job.

The news accounts describe Lacey as being re-assigned. If he was as guilty as the FAA makes him sound, they should have fired him. A lot of people died under his well-informed gaze, as well as his colleagues and his boss.

This is the addition:


On the anniversary of the [flight 261]crash, AirlineBiz.com attempted to pin Alaska Airlines down on the possibility that the airline had abandoned the crew and passengers to their watery grave. The question, however cruel and mercenary it may seem, was valid. The timing of the question was obviously an attempt to force an important question, as opposed to being morbid and opportunistic, to the detriment of the families. In response, Evans wouldn't give a direct or complete answer. In pursuit of the probable truth, AirlineBiz.com next attempted to garner the interest of its readership to get the answer to the question.

While Alaska's Jack Evans danced around the 'means-of-contact' information, he quietly refused to answer the following 15 questions, also failing to indicate his reasons for not doing so. One can only presume that the questions were not only direct, but accurate as to their focus.

1. With a clear mechanical emergency underway, why did Dispatch hand off the Los Angeles landing operational coordination (weight & balance, etc) to Flight 261, as opposed to Dispatch stepping up to the plate, automatically relieving the pilot workload? Was dispatch even aware of FAR 121.627 (automatic emergency provision)?

2. Is there any reason why a reasonable person shouldn't conclude that the emergency was being selectively ignored, with the pilots being punished with minimal support for their decision to divert?

3. While Flight 261 specifically asked Dispatch to coordinate assistance with the Training Department, Dispatch clearly 'blew them off;' why?

4. The serious nature of the Flight 261 problem could not have escaped anyone; why were they encouraged to continue to San Francisco, in lieu of the automatic emergency provisions of FAR 121.627?

5. Given the extent and clarity of the early maintenance-related communication, why did Maintenance NOT initiate a "land ASAP" directive? In a sentence, when checklists don't solve flight control problems, something radical is wrong. This was underscored by the Boeing directive to land ASAP, as opposed to getting creative beyond the checklists.

6. Why did Dispatch not declare an emergency, independently of the pilots, per their FAR authority? The customs coordination effort clearly testifies that the situation was not being treated as an emergency, when it should have been.

7. Based on the Flight 261 experience, how did the Flight 259 incident become equally protracted with the very same ear-marks (early knowledge of the problem)?

8. Why didn't Alaska Airlines support the pilots of Flight 506, given the mechanical failure of the pressurization warning system on a new aircraft?

9. According to the FAA, there was no change to the Crew Resource Management program as a consequence of these three events. Given three events in close succession, why?

10. Given the obvious concerns, has Alaska Airlines increased their operational support of the pilots since the 261, 259 and 506 events? If so, how?

11. Assuming the 'hang it up' account is accurate, did Alaska confront the mechanic giving the 'hang it up' order with the question, "Did you think about telling the pilots to expedite their landing?" An assertive suggestion is one thing, However, we both know that taking a microphone away from someone is NOT ordinary procedure.

12. Given the long list of media allegations concerning pressure on Alaska's mechanics and pilots (including Horizon), has anything changed in the corporate culture? If not, is there any plan to make such changes?

13. The CVR transcript shows that if the pilots had done a normal descent profile into Los Angeles, they probably would have crashed in a populated area with over a thousand gallons of fuel on board. Was anyone aware of that, prior to the crash?

14. While the Alaska Airlines maintenance / operations manuals were re-written last year, how far along is Alaska in complying with the changes provided for in those manuals - 50%? 80% 90%?

15. Given the 'musical FAA inspectors' scenario, culminated by the selective removal of Mary Rose Diefenderfer (among others), has Alaska's relationship with the FAA changed?

In the shadow of Alaska 261 was the ProAir debacle; the parallels were reversed. While the Seattle FAA office ultimately revoked the operating certificate of ProAir, a reasonable person can only conclude that the FAA was playing "God" at the tax-payers expense. The FAA gave life; and they took it away. The issues which the FAA relied upon to revoke the ProAir certificate were chronicled to an extreme in the appeal to the FAA Emergency Revocation Order. ProAir was begging the FAA for assistance, during the entire time the FAA was doing everything possible to destroy the airline, contrary to the mission assigned by Federal Law. The pleas for FAA assistance were wasted time and effort.

While some degree of debate is available in the Alaska and ProAir cases, one fact cannot be debated, open knowledge and facilitation by the FAA was required. Worse is the fact that the details of these matters were thrust upon the Clinton White House, the FBI, the Inspector General's Office and various members of Congress in a timely manner - to no avail.

The FAA had earned the title of being the "Tombstone Agency." The title suggesting that without a body count, the FAA would change nothing. Now, even with a horrifying body count, the FAA would mysteriously change nothing.

Still worse, the media cited the FAA with being the initiator of an attempted cover-up in the Alaska 261 crash. Nothing made sense.

As the details become spotlighted, the typical person's mind screams to know the 'how' and 'why' of such events and their seemingly unchallenged extreme.

As radical an idea as it may seem, a military historian would instantly recognize the pattern as being nearly an identical model to Nazism. The actual force came from below. Under a microscope, the leadership (Hitler) played an amazingly small role. A large number of serfdoms carried out their perception of Hitler's will. In the case of the FAA, that idea is perhaps best illustrated by a nearly secret meeting in Washington D.C., which identified many of the FAA problem areas and political 'hot potatoes.' At the meeting, pledges for change were made; timetables for implementation were established. Still, nothing changed. The managers returned to their FAA Regional Offices and conducted 'business as usual.'

According to an LA Times account, Jane Garvey's number two man, Nick Lacey, all but called his boss a liar. He illustrated that the situation was worse, following the near-secret meeting. (Corporate profits did increase.)

Multiple media exposures betrayed an interesting truth. The core of the FAA employees were keenly aware of the corruption and would expose it at any 'safe' (secret) opportunity. As former FAA inspector, Mary Rose Diefenderfer found out, the 'whistle-blower' laws served to expose 'trouble-makers,' they did not protect anyone but management when the "non team-players" were thus officially exposed.

The most bewildering aspect of this FAA-airline history, was that most of the big air carriers had a common style to the flaunting of the FAA safety regulations. For example, the non-issuance of the FAA regulations to pilots, with the accompanying lie (unchallenged by the FAA or ALPA), "The operations manual is the equivalent of the FARs; it's okay." Few statements could be further from the truth. Similarly, the air carrier's "Operations Specifications" content (also a safety item required by the FAA regulations to be furnished to the pilots) was no longer issued to the pilots. Amazingly, the pilots bought into the argument - hundreds died; accidents continue.

The bottom of the FAA pyramid mysteriously acted in concert, yet, the leadership of Washington D.C seemed seriously detached from the brutal reality. The Regional Offices seemed to be receiving common direction, yet it is doubtful that it came from the top - or within the FAA. Perhaps one important clue was identified in a cryptic remark by Fred Abbott (Continental), "Anyone who underestimates the power of the ATA is a fool." [referring to the airline industry non-compliance with the crew rest regulations]

In reference to the Alaska 261 crash, Jane Garvey said it best, "We screwed up." The statement was made to Earlene Shaw, who lost her husband on Flight 261. Accordingly, the Seattle times printed the statement. While the FAA spin-doctors tried to portray a different context of Jane Garvey's remark, AirlineBiz.com verifies the authenticity of Jane Garvey's remark and the original context. Garvey was blatantly honest; the FAA screwed up.

The Seattle residents suffered a state of shock. For the longest time, Alaska Airlines was a major source of local pride. What happened? When Bruce Kennedy left, everything seemed to change. Exit Kennedy, enter Kelly and the de-humanization of 'big business.' A fine set of employees found themselves at the mercy of the infamous 'bottom line.' Approximately thirty-five of those same employees died for that 'bottom line' in the Alaska 261 crash.

The FAA has a similar set of fine employees - more bewildered and more terrified of their own management.

Following the Alaska 261 crash, as families begged for the remains of their children, so as to lay them to rest, the eternally haunting question screamed from their tormented souls, WHY??? The answer is instantly available, however horrible it may be:

Lord Acton said it best, "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts - absolutely.

Those impacted by the horrifying events and hundreds of deaths such as Swiss Air 111, American 1420 and Alaska 261 cannot force the requisite honesty and integrity from the likes of Evans, Pearson, McSweeney, Lacey and Garvey; the dark side of such power is that absolute.

The recent slide in Alaska's profits partially attests to the eventual price of such power. Even the employees are fighting back, as valiantly as they dare. Tragically, there is no refund on the loss of lives, the misery, the lost pride, dignity and self respect of the innocent victims - and their families.

The only 'mileage' was in the corporate profits. The FAA players, Alaska Airlines and Jack Evans have no comment available to them; only ludicrous denial and the finest of spin-doctoring. Such is the nature of business and the worship of money and power; Satanic influence is not required. The continuing corporate practices with continuing FAA facilitation leave no room for excuses, sincere apologies or deserving forgiveness.

The undeniable evidence and continuing practices tell only one story, as with so many other accidents, the Alaska flight 261 crash was CAUSED - it does not deserve to be classed as an 'accident.'
Old 27th Apr 2001, 18:36
  #10 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a


Good points.

The FAA types I know indicate that there is a major effort to de-personalize the various accidents still under investigation. They expect the NTSB reports to do the same.

The emphasis is purportedly to be AWAY from the individual airline responsibility. The various approaches used to achieve that seem to fall nicely under the heading of "plausible assertion." Propaganda, by any name - quality stuff, too.

It will be interesting to see if any more FAA personalities get sacked. I'm waiting for McSweeney's name to be on the list. He does a good job of hiding in the crowd. It will be equally interesting to see what becomes of his 'best gal Beth.'

As to Nick only getting demoted, can you imagine the documents he's got in a safe? Within 90 days, he'll probably resign to take a corporate position, maybe within the ATA. The airline industry owes him - big time.

Good "handle," by the way. What orientation method did you prefer. Or, are you that old? {:-))

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